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Tobacco Shock in the Southland

I've just returned from nearly a month down in the Puerto Vallarta area of the Mexican Pacific coast. I had researched a bit before I went down and knew there was a small hand roll cigar factory there that had been operating since the mid-1960s. My intention was to visit the factory's "store" when I first arrived, purchase a handful of various blends and sizes, and buy two full boxes of my favorites the day before I left so they wouldn't spend too much time out of a humidor. I called the factory a few days after my arrival and told the woman I wished to come down the next day and wanted to make sure they would be open. She said it was good I called because they were closing the store forever in two days. She assured me they would be open the day I wanted to come and that I could purchase several cigars and even smoke one in the adjacent open air cafe that the factory also owned. She promised to explain to me the reason for closing when I visited.

We caught a bus downtown the next afternoon and after a bit of a hike got to the cigar factory. As I was picking out cigars in the little store, the proprietor said that the new Mexican law that was to take place the following Monday (mid-January) prohibited any tobacco products from being on display by merchants to the general public. A proprietor could ask a customer what they were interested in and then bring out some tobacco products to pick from, but no general picture window shopping. The law, as explained to me, also intended to eradicate smoking even in open air public places where people tended to gather or even walk by. Since folks could no longer come into the tobacco factory's store and browse, and could no longer try cigars at the adjacent open air cafe, they decided to keep making cigars but scrap the store. Customers would now have to come in, browse a catalog, make their picks and then either have them mailed to them or pick them up on their day of departure from Mexico.

Several days later, I was out smoking my pipe back at the resort and the hotel director spotted me and came over for a chat. We were discussing the new law and he said it applies to private businesses also. There are about six "hotels" on this resort in PV, and he said they were having to really scramble to find safe places where their guests could smoke and not offend even passers-by out in the open.

Knowing Mexico, I suspect this new law to be enforceable upon the merchants but lesser so to the general population. Places like Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cancun, etc. rely heavily on tourists from the U.S. and Canada and surely aren't going to start issuing fines to all the smokers. But I was quite shocked that Mexico would be one of the countries using hardball tactics to stamp out tobacco use. But, as I posted in December about the harsh tobacco laws I witnessed firsthand up in Canada, I have no doubt that the world is coming for us, folks. I would not be at all shocked to see the U.S. start putting the squeeze on in the next few years.
Interesting. We are winter Texans and live a few miles north of the border. Perhaps I need to open a smoking lounge somewhere near one of the international bridges? People flock to Mexico for inexpensive dental work, good food, and cheap booze. Why not turn the tide with a smoking club? I'll probably not, but it will be interesting to see if something like that develops. Tobacco tourism.
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