“Cuba has an eternal summer, and you can take advantage of the terraces and exterior spaces,” Ms. Sibori said.
Still, such a thought is anathema to some in Cuba.
The island has an ingrained tobacco culture and is proud of its world-famous cigar industry, which brought in $401 million in sales last year. When other goods were in scarce supply, cigarettes continued for years to be part of islanders’ monthly ration books.
Even nonsmokers cherished the subsidized tobacco, which they sold on the black market or traded for other goods.
But Fidel Castro gave up his trademark Cohibas in 1985 on doctors’ orders, and authorities have gently discouraged the vice.
Today, state-run radio airs public service announcements about the benefits of quitting, and cigarette packs carry health warnings. Cigarette dispensing machines have disappeared. Authorities began phasing out the tobacco ration in the 1990s and fully eliminated it in 2010.
Mr. Castro even joked about the ills of smoking cigars by saying, “The best thing to do is give them to your enemy.”
Still, government numbers say as many as 4 in 10 Cubans smoke — though that is way down from estimates of 60 percent to 70 percent in the 1970s.
Cuba has had a resolution on the books since 2005 banning smoking in theaters, stores, buses, taxis, restaurants and other enclosed public areas.
But many are unaware of the law, and it’s common to see people brazenly light up practically anywhere they theoretically shouldn’t: offices, stairwells, elevators, buses, trains.
“This is a country of smokers, a country with an important tobacco tradition,” Ms. Sibori said. “Changing habits that form part of our roots is very difficult. I imagine that little by little things will be implemented so that this takes shape, but I still think there is much work to be done.”
On a recent afternoon in El Mercurio cafe, tables were packed with French tourists chowing down on pork loin, rice, beans and fried plantains. Missing was the stale, smoky haze that used to hang over the tables.
Waiters said they appreciate going home at night in clothing that doesn’t smell like an ashtray. Chefs take smoke breaks outside the back door without apparent complaint. There is still some clandestine indoor smoking at some places late at night when most clients are gone, however.
“Why not?” said Thomas Gabrisch, a Dusseldorf, Germany, music professor who was puffing on a slender cigarillo outside El Mercurio, when asked whether he was OK with the indoor ban. “I think [smoking] bothers a lot of people. For me, it would not be a problem. . . . But I think a lot of people would like to stay inside.”
That sentiment was echoed by Dirk Brodersen, one of the aficionados from Hamburg, who said it was an adventure to be able to smoke the previous night at a basement music club.
“What is Cuba? Rum, cigars, sun and people,” Mr. Brodersen said. “Cuban jazz without a cigar — not so good.”
Yoel Chacon may have to start taking his cigars outside, rather than in the comfort of the Conde de Villanueva hotel, as Cuban authorities start to enforce a 2005 measure that has been almost universally flouted until now.