Skip to Content

Cancun Hospitality Wins Fight For Travelers To Smoke In Designated Areas

Share The Article

Last Updated

A group of tenacious restaurants in Cancun has won back the freedom to have designated smoking areas on their premises.

Cancun Hospitality Wins Fight For Travelers To Smoke In Designated Areas

So far, 15 restaurants, mostly located in the hotel zone, have been granted more relaxed rules.

Meanwhile, a representative of restaurants in Cancun stated that there are more establishments with similar requests waiting for their court date to bring the same challenge against the public area smoking ban.

What The Restaurants Have Fought Against

Back on January 15th, 2023, Mexico introduced its new anti-smoking legislation that surprised the world due to its extreme nature.

The legislation meant that smoking in all public places became an illegal act. This includes beaches, parks, bars, and even sidewalks.

Carlos and Charlies restaurant front Cancun

Hefty fines were expected to be waiting for anyone who ignored the new law, although up until now, no restaurant in Cancun has received a fine from the health authorities, despite regular reports of the new smoking restrictions being ignored.

While the new law had plenty of supporters, many Mexicans, as well as regular foreign visitors, were upset at the change.

Cancun has long been seen as a haven for Americans from the often strict social attitudes to smoking back home. The destination has traditionally had a more ‘you do you’ response to smokers.

Top 5 Travel Insurance Plans For 2023 Starting At $10 Per Week

Easily Earn Points For Free Travel

Coco Bongos advertisement sign on Cancun high street

The Ruling

While this small group of tourist industry-focused restaurants has won an important battle in their eyes, the court ruling in their favor doesn’t throw the new anti-smoking legislation out.

The 15 restaurants named in the legal documents now have the legal right to provide designated smoking areas for customers.

Furthermore, these establishments are not allowed to serve food and alcohol in these sections, meaning they will likely resemble the often-crowded smoking areas found in airports around the world.

Puerto Morelos Beachfront Restaurant with People Sitting at the Bar

As well as the restrictions on food and alcohol service, the new smoking areas must be outside on terraces, patios, or any other outdoor area belonging to the restaurant, and also be a minimum of 10 meters from the non-smoking areas.

Unfortunately, this means any business that doesn’t have a suitable outdoor area won’t be able to provide this extra slice of freedom to their visitors as the sidewalk remains a smoke-free zone.

Cancun restaurants

The Restaurants Aren’t Alone

It isn’t just the restaurants of Cancun that are fighting the government’s anti-smoking crusade. Many large hotels, convenience stores, and local shops in the city have filed their own resolutions.

While many of these businesses don’t directly benefit from tourists being able to smoke on their premises, the general feeling is the new law takes away from Cancun’s appeal to foreigners.

This show of solidarity by the businesses of Cancun in response to situations that impact tourists isn’t new. On everything from crime to sargassum, they often join together to force change and action to protect the tourism industry.

A cleaner at a Cancun beach dealing with sargassum

What Does It Change?

A quick look at the criteria that need to be filled to have a smoking area and it becomes obvious this new development won’t change much.

The stipulation to have smoking areas 10 meters from non-smoking areas alone rules out the vast majority of establishments.

But it should be understood that this isn’t just about being allowed to have smoking areas. This is the opening chess move by Cancun businesses in their fight against what many in Mexico believe is a step too far by the government.

For now, this concession has only been granted to 15 restaurants, but with many more cases waiting in the wings to be brought forward, business leaders are hoping to create a snowball effect.

And with each new ruling in favor of the restaurants, the pressure mounts on the government to re-examine the legislation completely.

downtown cancun at night

Additionally, while Mexico may not have the most stellar reputation worldwide due to organized crime and allegations of dishonesty from officials, the country is a constitutional democracy where the courts are open for all citizens and businesses to challenge the government.

In other words, the businesses of Cancun aren’t fighting a losing battle and may just be able to restore this small but previously appreciated freedom to visitors of the Riviera Maya.

Plan Your Next Cancun Vacation:

Traveler Alert: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance For Your Next Trip!

Choose From Thousands of Cancun and Riviera Maya Hotels, Resorts and Hostels with Free Cancellation On Most Properties

↓ Join the community ↓

The Cancun Sun Community FB group has all the latest travel news, conversations and tourism Q&A’s for the Mexican Caribbean


Subscribe to our Latest Posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to The Cancun Sun’s latest breaking news affecting travelers, straight to your inbox.


Thursday 4th of January 2024

My boyfriend and I spent 9 months in Cancun in 2022,and we are most definitely coming back for another long stay in February. We are both smokers, and absolutely looove our "Candy Darts" 😍 ( flavoured cigarettes) which are banned in Canada. Thanks Trudeau🙄We are quite baffled with this new law that has been introduced. However,this will not deter us from making travel arrangements for our favorite city in Mexico. We stayed at the Seven Boutique Apartments, lived amongst the locals, and made several life long friends. As much as this new smoking ban in public areas may be a bit of a nuisance. We will make the best of it. Because Cancun is the best city in the world. And we love Mexico 🇲🇽.

Kelly & Dan From Ontario, Canada 🇨🇦

Randy Starner

Tuesday 19th of September 2023

We have visited Cancun several times for a week or more in the last few years. We patronized restaurants that offered a cigar friendly area. We enjoyed cigars on the beach. We spent several thousand dollars on each visit. We won't be back. It will be interesting to see if non-smokers make up the difference of lost revenue from cigar enthusiasts and other smokers. It's your country, and you should run it the way you want. We are just tourists that will tourist somewhere else.


Saturday 10th of February 2024

@Smoky, I am glad you and your filthy polluting habit will never be back.


Wednesday 27th of September 2023

@Randy Starner, Same here. Been 12 times in Cancun and 6 in Riviera... and I think that's it.


Tuesday 27th of June 2023

After spending the last 40 years coming to Mexico multiple times a year and a plan to retire there this smoking ban has put a stop to us and many others from being in our beloved Mexico. ❤️‍🩹


Saturday 10th of February 2024

@Jill, wonderfull. Keep your disgusting habit to yourself. Glad u won’t be back.


Friday 31st of March 2023

Unfortunately president AMLO passed the new regulations without considering the rights & rules that the constitution provides for Mexicans, which is all too common with him, he also is building the Mayan train without the proper environmental studies.


Tuesday 27th of June 2023

@David, exactly! The Mayan train is a horrible idea when most travellers are looking for the old Mexico.