Previous Next

Photo bykkseema

Jeannie Mark fills us in on where in the world it’s still en vogue to be a smoker.

EVER HEARD OF SEX tourism? What I engage in is an equally, if not despised pastime – smoke tourism. It’s not uncommon for me to fly into Bangkok, seek out a 7-11, plant down baht, and demand 7 packs right there. Call me a rebel chasing smoking bans across continents, but smoking outside of my native country is not only thrilling, but also damn cheap.

Here’s a list of countries that more or less allow the perverted smoke tourist to light up freely.

Andorra – Light up with glee except in educational facilities, government buildings and public transportation.

Argentina – No nationwide smoke ban; however, a movement exists to ban smoking in all public and enclosed spaces. The tobacco industry is lobbying intensely against this. So are Argentines: 46.8 percent of men and 34 percent of women worship cigarettes. In other words, smoke and dance the tango in Buenos Aires while you still can.

Photo by hangean

Cameroon – Smoking is king here, puff with no guilt.

Chad – Smoking is queen, and quite widely accepted. In fact, in countries like Niger, Central African Republic or Senegal the smoker is favored.

China – Could be the Holy Grail for smokers. China’s love affair with tobacco is estimated at 30% of the world’s total consumption. Smoking bans are rarely enforced except in major cities, Shanghai and Beijing.

Germany – Nothing like a Würste, Kölsch beer, and smoke to cap an evening. Since January 1, 2008, there has been a ban on enclosed public places in 12 out of 16 states, but it’s up to the individual proprietor of cafes or restaurants to enforce it. The happy result? Enforcement varies.

Hungary – Oh glory days, a ban to prohibit smoking in public places is presently in limbo. Inhale that smoke and take in the calming Danube River.

Indonesia – Smoking is a no-no in health-care and educational facilities, but nowhere else, according to a 2009 WHO report on smoking bans. However, Jakarta has implemented an overall ban in public areas. Take your smoke pleasures where you can get away with them.

Photo by annia316

JapanJapan has no nationwide ban in place, although a few local ordinances are in effect. Smoking is disallowed on the streets of the Chiyoda, Shinagawa, Shinjuku and Nakano wards of Tokyo, not because of cancer statistics, but safety of children. Can’t forget the children now. Although smoking is banned on public transportation, policing is nil.

Madagascar – An island off the southeastern coast of Africa, I’m intrigued with the fact you can puff away everywhere except in a bush taxi (taxi brousse). Be aware that spending your tourist dollars could be supporting the recently installed government by force, which is not recognized by the EU or The African Union.

Poland – A 2009 WHO report on smoking bans states that Poland is a smoker’s paradise. Strange that wikipedia says otherwise. Let’s go with a little germ of hope. Smoke away in Krakow!

Russia – A country fraught with a disjointed, violent history would have to clamp down on the general populace, right? Not so. Russia has no smoking ban in force, which makes those long nights on the Trans Siberian bearable.

Thailand – My precious Thailand. Smoking is generally allowed except in air-conditioned facilities. And let’s be frank, how many of those exist?

Ukraine – Don’t you think a battered down people deserve some pleasure in life? Introducing ‘no smoking ban’ – bring on the butts.

Photo by ventanazul

United States – Shocking to believe, but the United States has no nationwide smoking mechanisms. It’s up to each state to pass and enforce smoking laws. States that currently have no general regulation on smoking in non-government spaces are:

South Carolina
West Virginia

Most of these states require restaurant and café owners to assign designated smoking areas and post signs. That’s code for freedom lovers to take advantage of the inconsistency and be swept away in a smoky room.

Culture Guides



About The Author

Jeannie Mark

Jeannie is a curious, thirsty gal whose corporate job just ditched her. With severance in hand, she's about to turn the world map into her career. Follow her adventures at

More By This Author

view all →
  • Camden Luxford

    This article immediately made me think of an Austrian friend, telling me as we sat in a cafe in Vienna, barely able to see each other through the smoke, as she lit up the first of the second pack of the day, that the Austrians would never stand for a smoking ban. She said it with great conviction. I had this image of a tiny smoky Austria ringed by a disgustingly healthy Europe.

    I’m somewhat disappointed to see on wikipedia that some provisions have been passed, but cheered by the phrase “the law provides for a very long transition phase”. Very, very long, no doubt.

  • Alaina O’Brien

    What a neat topic for an article! You forgot Austria, though. Definitely no smoking ban here! Restaurants, discos, and bars all allow smoking – you can’t wear your same “going out clothes” twice, unless you don’t mind the smell. Also, my students all smoke in front of school without anyone batting an eye. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, there are some restrictions, but I haven’t seen many. However, the train/subway stations definitely have restrictions, such as zones where you are allowed to smoke.

  • Camden Luxford

    Alaina, are you stalking me around the web :)
    And how funny that we both immediately thought of Austria, and at more or less the same time!

    • Alaina O’Brien

      Haha! No I’m not, I swear!! I saw your comment and thought the same about you. :P Your comment showed up before mine, but it wasn’t there when I posted!

  • James Schipper

    I’ve had the pleasure of living in Las Vegas, where you are all but encouraged to smoke anywhere, like the good old days.

    I also lived in Calabasas, CA. Which was the first city at the time to ban smoking outside within city limits. Yes, outside. I never got harassed for it, as I never smoked around outdoor groups of people like tables outside a cafe (the reason for the law in the beginning).

    It was a far cry from when we could walk through the produce section of the grocery store in that same city while smoking, and nobody so much as gave you a dirty look.

    (I quit 3 years ago, despite my enjoyment of smoking. I could no longer deal with the consequences on my activities.)

  • Nomadic Chick

    Ah yes, good call on Austria. Consider it included!

  • Shauna

    Great idea for a post! I shared cigarettes with the border crossing officials in their offices in Syria. I smoked in the airport in Morocco. IN the airport! On the trains, I’ve seen it on buses. Taking a shared cab with 6 people in the car, everyone was smoking. Even the guy sitting in the middle, flicking it into his hand. The Middle East not only allows it, but you can’t make a transaction without it. You can buy a water without the “social smoke and tea” but that’s about it. Also super cheap. $2 for a pack of beautiful french Gauloises. The term was long ago coined “smoke like a Turk”. I pity the non-smokers! It’s almost worth starting up to avoid the second hand smoke ;)

  • Joel

    Great article, Jeannie! I think I want to counter it by posting the “10 best cigarette warning labels around the world” as a photo essay.

    Come to think of it, that’d be awesome! Some of them are truly disgusting!

  • Jessica Skelton

    A very quirky and unique topic! Love it!

  • Greg

    Actually, here in Lexington, Kentucky, smoking is banned both indoors and near doors. Bars can’t even have covered, open-air smoking areas unless they get a special allowance (it was there before the ban).

    China and Indonesia are unbelievable. Many times as soon as I sat in a cab the driver would offer me a cigarette. It is generally accepted that all men smoke!

    Very interesting article, cheers!

    • Kate Sedgwick

      Banned in Jefferson County (Louisville) also. But if you go to a neighboring county, you can smoke at any truck stop you want! The counties in KY are small, too. I think there are more than in any other state.

  • Abbie

    This is great for a non-smoker – now i know where to avoid :)

  • Pingback: Mango Bonga: How to Turn Everyday Produce into a Pipe

  • Cornelius Aesop

    Great list, but surprised not to see France up there or is that because it is a given that it’s OK to smoke there? I’m not to big on a cigarette but get me started on a good cigar and now we’re talking.

  • Nomadic Chick

    @Cornelius – You just gave me a new idea for an article. I like cigars as well. :)

  • Alan

    @Cornelius: indoor smoking has been banned in France for a couple years in any public place, including of course restaurants, bars, cafés or nightclubs!

    • Nomadic Chick

      @Cornelius – Yeah, what Alan said. :)

  • Ben Freedlander

    Excellent article, we could easily travel together. Whenever I go to a new place I try to sample all the local brands and usually load up on the way home. They’re cheap and tend to be pretty good. Some of the worst I’ve have had were in China and Israel but the Vietnamese were really good in my opinion. Also, a lot of good European brands out there but they are the same price as here in the States. Thank god for the duty free shops. The only smokes I could find in Ghana were Paul Malls, not really my cup of tea but they did the job. Not many of them smoke, is that common in Africa? Thanks again for a good article. -Ben

  • Nomadic Chick

    @Ben – I do as well. My fallback is Marlboro Lights. Otherwise, I’m partaking in the local brands. Do as the Romans, right? The most memorable ones I smoked had to be Alain Delon cigarettes in Cambodia. Come on, just that sentence alone is cool. :)

  • Filip Rabuzin

    Pretty much banned everywhere here in oz, however i have heard of a few boutique cigar bars opening down in Melbourne that would definitely be worth a look if you plan on stopping by this way.

  • Sean

    World is paradise for the smokers really.. anywhere in the world you’ll find the chain smokers around you. :)

    • Nomadic Chick

      @Sean – Don’t I know it. A friend showed me the worst thing possible – pure, natural tobacco cigarettes called Northfields, and the company is Canadian! I’m talking sans any chemicals or preservatives. Dammit! Told him, “You shouldn’t of shown these to me.” My dabbling days could now become full blown again. Sigh…

      • Sean

        Yeah.. its true..

  • Pingback: Sex and the Stogie: A Girl’s Guide to Cigars

  • Anthony

    In New Zealand, the price of ciggies is going to go from $23 to $60 with a 10% percent increase every year.

    • Anthony

      (This is for a 20 ciggie packet)

  • Zack Cluley

    South Korea should’ve been included in this, sometimes I can’t tell if it’s haze from pollution in the skies everyday, or all the office workers taking a smoke break

  • Purplecoffer

  • Roderick Jackson

    Beloved Thailand was the first country to arrest me for smoking ten years ago. I woke up,
    went to the chemist and before I got to the shop door a policeman who didn’t speak English.
    made me get on his motorbike and we drove off. Turns out a cigarette in the gutter was liable to.
    get you taken away and fined £50 for littering. I haven’t been back!

It's interesting how the language we speak influences the animal sounds we hear.
You would never pay $1100 a month to live in Columbia Heights.
Are guidebooks still worth the paper they're printed on? Maybe. Fact is, they're still...
New proposed laws could ban smoking in your apartment and car.
The yinzer is a Pittsburgh native who speaks with the accent unique to this area.
We trek from the special inspection counter to the special room for sex fiends.
Today, the new South Africa is all about the silver linings.
You bought a red plaid shirt and trained yourself to say “washroom.”
We’re like a C+ jock calling himself the smartest kid in school.
Not taking a two-hour lunch break is one of the seven deadly sins.
You can bet that every Canadian has the Tim Hortons app.