Smoke gets in your eyes

It’s been six years since the no-smoking law (No. 1799) for public places went into effect in the City of Buenos Aires.  The milongas changed forever and for the better.

I didn’t smoke after the age of 20, but I endured the smoke-filled milongas of Buenos Aires for ten years from 1996-2006.  When my son came for a visit, I wanted him to see a milonga.  He lasted only a half hour in the smoke-filled room of Lo de Celia where I shared a table with smokers every Sunday.

This was a common scenario.  A female smoker would light up and then accept an invitation to dance, leaving her cigarette burning at the table.  When she returned, the cigarette was ashes.  It didn’t occur to some smokers to put out the cigarette.  When I sat near a smoker who left a cigarette burning, I quickly put it out to avoid more smoke coming my way.  Many women smoked constantly in the milongas.

A friend and I talked about hosting a no-smoking milonga, but concluded that few would attend.  How wrong we were.  Since the new law went into effect, smokers go out to the street to smoke, and no one complains.  Organizers enforce the law or face fines up to $2,000 AP.  The milongas are cleaner.  A nonsmoker no longer has to endure second-hand smoke and deal with airing out their clothes.

One night recently as I was leaving Lo de Celia, I stopped to talk with a milonguera who was smoking on the stairway landing next to a no-smoking sign on the wall.  I kept my distance to avoid the smoke while we talked.  This reminded me it’s been six years of smoke-free milongas.

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One Response to “Smoke gets in your eyes”

  1. Alan Jones. Says:

    I had been told about the smoke-filled milongas before we travelled to BA. Luckily we arrived after the ban had been implemented and were surprised how quickly the Argentinians changed. I did chuckle at the ashtrays everywhere.

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