Smoking is an activity that has come under fairly stringent controls in recent years. These days, smoking is usually prohibited inside public transport, particularly aircraft, buses, and trains, and other enclosed vehicles, where ventilation is limited or the air is recirculated.

Many countries have restrictions on the quantity of cigarettes or tobacco that can be brought into the country. In many countries, tobacco products are taxed heavily, so travelers importing more than a few packets of these products should expect to pay import duties. On the other hand, many countries also have facilities that permit departing travelers to purchase these same products, duty free, at the border, as they leave the country.

Other smoking products
People who smoke products other than tobacco should be aware that cannabis and other recreational substances are prohibited in many countries. Some countries impose severe penalties for attempting to import even a small quantity. If you are found in possession – and some cases even carrying implements that can be, or have been, used for smoking these products – you may be arrested and imprisoned, possibly for life. Or even worse – for instance in Singapore any attempts to import cannabis or other drugs are punished with death by hanging. At the very least, in most countries, you will not be permitted to cross the border with the products still in your possession. Penalties for purchase, possession, and/or use within a given country can range from none to severe. Know the local laws.

The following countries and regions have smoke-free areas, although the list is probably not exhaustive:

  • Australia: The rules vary from state to state, but there is generally no smoking in public places (e.g. airports, train stations, schools, universities, government administration buildings). Restaurants (and bars in some states) are smoke-free. Public transport (including taxis) is smoke free, as are many outdoor sports venues. Hospitals generally ban smoking anywhere on the premises, including outdoors.
  • Austria: No smoking in public places (e.g. airports, train stations, schools, universities, government administration buildings) and on public transport (e.g. trains) (fineable offence). Smoking is allowed in restaurants, bars and cafes. Bars and restaurants of more than 100 square meters must have non-smoking sections.
  • Bangladesh: No smoking in public places (a fineable offence).
  • Belgium: From 2007 restaurants (but not bars) will be smoke free.
  • Bhutan: First completely smoke-free country. Sale or use of tobacco is completely prohibited by law.
  • Brazil: Indoor smoking is banned in Brasilia.
  • Canada: Indoor smoking in public places is banned in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories. Smoking is allowed only in separate, ventilated rooms in British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island. British Columbia, Alberta, and the Yukon have total indoor smoking bans scheduled to take effect in 2008.
  • Denmark No smoking in trains. Restaurants are smoke-free (but some have a smoking-room. Smoking is allowed in bars less than 40 sq meter. So go for larger bars if you want to avoid smoke. The smoking rules are from august 2007, and are not enforced very hard yet, so you can still risk smoke in small bars.
  • Finland: Indoor smoking in public places is banned (e.g. airports, train stations, schools, universities, government administration buildings). Smoking is allowed in designated areas at restaurants, bars and cafes.
  • France: From January 1 2008, smoking is banned everywhere: public places, schools, bars, restaurants, nightclubs…
  • Germany: From September 1 2007 smoking is prohibited in all passenger trains. Since August 1, 2007 you are not allowed to smoke in restaurants in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
  • Iceland: From June 1 2007, smoking is prohibited in all indoor public places, which includes all bars/clubs.
  • Ireland: Restaurants and bars are smoke-free. Indoor smoking is banned in all workplaces and public buildings. However, many pub owners have compensated by extending their seating outdoors and there are smoking bedrooms available in most hotels, if you specify that you want one when booking.
  • Italy: Restaurants and bars are smoke-free, as are most hotels.
  • Japan: Smoking banned at airports, most train stations, government buildings, but smoking rooms are provided.
  • Malaysia: Smoking banned in all enclosed indoor buildings except bars.
  • Netherlands: Smoking banned in public transport & public buildings. And as of July 1 2008 smoking banned in restaurants, bars and even tobacco stores. Even the (in)famous Coffee shops will not be exempt. Apart from public transport, all companies will be allowed to designate rooms as “smoking rooms”, as long as they are especially designated for this.
  • New Zealand: Restaurants and bars are smoke-free, although smoking may be permitted in outdoor dining areas. Commercial building owners, including accommodation places, can designate their buildings and grounds as smoke-free. All public transport is smoke-free, even taxis (unless the taxi driver agrees). Smoking can even be prohibited on railway station platforms, hospital grounds, sports stadiums and other outdoor areas where smoking might be expected to be allowed in other countries.
  • Norway: Restaurants and bars are smoke-free.
  • Philippines: Smoking banned in airports, malls, government buildings, train stations.
  • Singapore: Smoking banned in all indoor buildings, period, unless they have separate ventilation set up for smokers only — and no food or drinks can be served in such areas. Outdoor seating may have only 20% smoking tables, usually demarcated by ashtrays and labels. No smoking at bus stops either.
  • South Africa: Smoking is banned in all enclosed public spaces and places of work. Pubs and bars are excluded from the ban and most restaurants provide smoking sections, either ventilated indoor areas or outdoor open areas.
  • Spain: Bars and restaurants of more than 100 square meters must have non-smoking sections (but restaurants have until Sep 2006 to build the separations). Shopping centres and public transportation are smoke free.
  • Sweden: Restaurants and bars are smoke-free.
  • Thailand: Extensive ban issued in 2002, covering most air-conditioned public places including department stores, shopping malls restaurants, theatres and buses; extended in 2006 to cover all trains, hotel lobbies, health spas, beauty salons and massage parlours; extended again in 2008 to cover bars and nightclubs. Fines start at 2000 baht (approx US$60), but enforcement (esp. in nightlife areas) is spotty.
  • United Kingdom: Smoking is now banned in all enclosed public places, including bars, pubs and restaurants. There are no exceptions. On-the-spot fines are around £50, although the owner of the premises could be fined several thousand pounds for failing to enforce the ban properly.
    • Wales: This was actually the first country in the UK to decide to ban smoking in all enclosed public places but the Welsh Assembly Government lacked the powers to introduce the law until 2 April 2007, whereupon the ban came into force.
    • Scotland: Smoking in all enclosed places of work (including restaurants and bars) is forbidden. Violation of the law may result in a £50 on-the-spot fine (approx US$85).
    • England: Since the first of July 2007 smoking has been banned in all enclosed public places including pubs and restaurants. England is therefore the last country in the UK to introduce the smoking ban.
  • United States of America:-
    • Delaware (state), New York (state), New Jersey, New Mexico, Florida, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, North Dakota, Washington State, Tennessee, Georgia, Colorado, Oklahoma, Illinois, Utah, Rhode Island, Vermont and Ohio restaurants are smoke-free.
    • In other states, restaurants above a certain size must have non-smoking sections. Some locations ban smoking in all public places, including bars. Most airports are non-smoking, or have designated smoking rooms.
  • Uruguay: Indoor smoking is banned in all the country.

Heavy smoking
In China, smoking is still something of a social activity, at least for men. Anyone with cigarettes will offer them around before he lights up; having an expensive brand is a status symbol. Female smokers may be thought odd. Restaurants do not usually have non-smoking areas; many do not have ashtrays either. Areas such as bus stations may have “no smoking” signs, but these are often ignored. Non-smokers should be prepared to endure smoky rooms.