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Air quality in Havana

Singapore
Level Contributor
4 posts
34 reviews
Air quality in Havana

How is the air quality in Havana? Especially in old Havana? Have read a lot of mixed reviews with some claiming that they were hardly bothered with cigarette or cigar smoke and some saying that Cuba is not for those sensitive to smoke.

I really want to visit Cuba but am afraid that I'll suffer from anxiety which happens when I feel suffocated. Is it worse that Chinese cities (which to me is pretty bad)? I don't get bothered in places like Seoul where everybody smokes but they do it away from common areas.

Am also quite concerned about the exhaust smoke from old vehicles as I understand old Havana is best explored on foot and wouldn't want to be inhaling all that black smoke.

Istanbul
Level Contributor
1,829 posts
129 reviews
1. Re: Air quality in Havana

People who made those comments probably have never been to Cuba and Havana… The air in Havana is pure and very clean… Yes people smoke cigars, but that smoke does not cause anxiety attacks and suffocation…

The exhaust smoke from the old cars cause no harm to the pedestrians … Don’t believe the overstated comments…

Newton Aycliffe...
Destination Expert
for Cuba, Rafael Freyre, Guardalavaca, Holguin
Level Contributor
106,245 posts
57 reviews
2. Re: Air quality in Havana

HweeMin:

I would think that you are worrying unduly. Air pollution in places like Singapore and Beijing has to be far, far worse than in Havana.

Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
2,912 posts
25 reviews
3. Re: Air quality in Havana

Personally I find the car exhaust annoying in Havana, particularly Centro and the parts of Vieja that have vehicle traffic. There are few cars on the road by most people's standards, but many of those few have a Rube Goldberg machine under the hood, and they pump out disgusting black smoke.

That said, you don't have to go far to get away from the worst of it. Vedado suffices for me, and of course the busiest, most touristy parts of Vieja (aside from Parque Central and the area around the Capitolio) have no vehicles at all.

As for tobacco, yes, lots of Cubans and tourists smoke. But indoor smoking is getting less and less common. It may not be 100% avoidable but it's noticeably less acceptable to smoke inside (speaking as a smoker).

ottawa
Level Contributor
3,973 posts
6 reviews
4. Re: Air quality in Havana

I agree that Centro is the worst area for car exhaust particularly the main drags such as Neptuno. We had to cancel our second night in our casa recently because the car fumes coming through the window coupled with the smoke from the cigarettes of our casa owners made my husband sick.

I would not call the air in Havana pure and clean but there are areas where you can avoid the worst of it as AGoldfish has stated. I don't find it and obvious problem in the tourist areas of Havana Vieja.

Regina, Canada
Level Contributor
269 posts
1 review
5. Re: Air quality in Havana

I have only been to Old Havana. Personally, I find that in certain areas it stinks of exhaust, dust, debris and sewage. And definitely there are cars and motorbikes sharing the road with pedestrians, at least where I walk. Also, to me it seems very loud, busy and claustrophobic.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
379 posts
13 reviews
6. Re: Air quality in Havana

I had no problem with the air in Vedado - I stayed in St Johns and the Capri, both a couple of blocks away from the Malecón with the sea breezes. Although many people smoke, the sea breezes moved the air fast, and the fumes never bothered me.

I found the worst smells were in Centro. It is crowded, dirty, and lots of large boulevards with many cars. However, for me, the non touristy atmosphere more than made up for it. The broken sidewalks and holes in the road that could swallow me were much more dangerous!

Miramar, Guanabo, and Reglas had clean air. The many trees and green space probably helped clean the air. Again, there were sea breezes on Guanabo and Miramar.

Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
2,912 posts
25 reviews
7. Re: Air quality in Havana

Vincent, I agree with your description for parts of Old Havana where vehicles are allowed, and also wherever there's an active construction site. And it's true that it's all pretty busy and noisy, and some streets are quite narrow (Obispo has the magic combination of dense crowds and narrow street, but no cars). But there are also a few big squares, and relatively quiet streets linking them, that don't have vehicle traffic. As major tourist zones, these areas are usually kept reasonably clean.

One of the best ways to avoid vehicle exhaust is to choose your taxi carefully. I often find the back seat of the old Russian cars (Lada, Moskvitch) and some of the less well kept American ones often smell strongly of the car's exhaust. If you stick to modern taxis you'll usually pay more, but avoid the problem (and even get a/c in most cases). I would not ride a coco taxi ever, partly because they look like death traps but mainly because I don't want to be sitting in an open vehicle at exhaust-pipe level.

Manitoba, Canada
Level Contributor
1,439 posts
24 reviews
8. Re: Air quality in Havana

hola :) The breathing air in Havana & Centro Havana can get very polluted when there isn't much of a breeze and the air is hot. I now stay in Vedado. When i use to stay in Vieja i would get off the bus at the first stop back to the Varadero airport Playa Esta or Jibacoa and breeeeeeath in some fresh ocean air. I can't imagine living in Vieja or Centro, as i have friends that do. The poor kids with breathing problems. sad. HweeMin, go to Havana & enjoy. No problema for a visit. There is always a small park near by to relax with better air. ps - Obispo on a hot day & crowded, Wow! :) pss - i can't imagine living near some of those smoke stacks of Cuba.

Singapore
Level Contributor
4 posts
34 reviews
9. Re: Air quality in Havana

Thanks for all your feedback everyone!!

Edited: 10:38 pm, August 10, 2016
Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
9 posts
32 reviews
10. Re: Air quality in Havana

Err did no one mention the oil refinery constantly belching out smoke just across the water from the old city? No one the air is pure and clean with that there especially when down wind from it.