In a rare display of national unity, members of the Lower House of Congress voted almost unanimously to approve the ban, which received the support of virtually all political parties.
Health officials estimate that cigarette-related cancer kills around 40,000 Argentines annually.
Pro party Deputy Paula Bertol, one of the law’s most vocal proponents, said the law’s goal is to reduce smoking and prevent people from taking up the hideous habit in the first place.
The law bans smoking in indoor work spaces, schools, hospitals, museums, clubs and public transportation systems. It also places strict limits on the sale, advertising and promotion of cigarettes in these and other places while forcing tobacco companies to put warning labels on cigarette packages.
The law does allow people to continue smoking on their own private balconies and patios, etc.
“Today is a day to celebrate,” Bertol said in a statement. “After more than 20 years of working on this matter, Congress has finally passed the law that will save lives. Tobaco kills and our objective is to protect those who freely choose not to smoke.”
Bertol said that more than half of the people who smoke will end up dying from a disease related to their consumption of cigarettes. On average, she said, smokers live at least 10 years less than non-smokers.
Argentina has come a long way in recent years. The City of Buenos Aires first banned smoking in 2006. That’s a far cry from the mid 1990s when some Argentines still smoked openly in movie theaters.