My wife and I recently took a quick trip to Lima, Peru. Having never been to South America, we weren’t entirely sure what to expect, but I figured that there would be at least one opportunity to sit back and enjoy a cigar while there. Man… was I wrong.
In general, smoking in Lima seems to be far less popular than even in the rather smoking-averse United States. Seeing a cigarette discarded on the ground was a rare event, and I think only once did I actually see someone smoking in public.
So, where can you actually smoke?
The majority of Peru’s tobacco laws are enshrined in law number 28705, which has a number of restrictions and regulations that are pretty much in line with the rest of the developed world. Smoking is prohibited in public establishments like hospitals and schools, and establishments which want to allow smoking must have a segregated smoking area with appropriate ventilation.
That’s all great in theory… but in practice, even though smoking areas can be permitted, they generally aren’t available in attractive locations. I couldn’t find any hotels where smoking areas were available other than a single spot on the sidewalk in front of the hotel.
We stayed at the Hilton in Miraflores, and despite the above outdoor seating area that would be the perfect smoking spot a “no smoking” sign quickly dashed all hopes of burning down a quick one there. We even splurged on a room with an outdoor balcony but, alas, smoking was not permitted there either on penalty of some significant cleaning fees.
Even in the casinos that are scattered throughout the city, smoking is not permitted. I have fond memories of the smoker’s heaven that is Las Vegas, but these are not the same beast. I couldn’t find any casinos that had a smoking area — or at least a smoking area that wasn’t a single sad ash tray on the street corner.
Most outdoor places, even though they are outdoor, are similarly non-smoking. Larcomar is an outdoor shopping mall on the cliff overlooking the beach and another prime smoking location, but it too was smoke free. There are stories online of people being escorted out for smoking, so definitely not something you even want to attempt.
As you might expect from a city so hostile towards smokers, there are virtually no cigar lounges and only a handful of shops which are dedicated to selling supplies. None of them feature indoor smoking areas as far as I can tell — if you can get in. The one I visited in Miraflores was locked up tight despite being within the advertised open hours.
The only place I found which sells cigars (and was open) in the city was the duty free section of the Lima airport. Even there it was a sad showing with only a handful of items, but they did have a selection of Tabacalera del Oriente, which is a local cigar manufacturer in Peru at a reasonable price.
There’s lots of great things to do in Lima. Amazing restaurants, great views, and a fascinating historic culture to experience. Oh, and delicious pisco sours. But cigar smoking isn’t necessarily on the menu, so be aware.