Elevated view of Las Condes district in Santiago, Chile. (Shuttestock/Jose Luis Stephens)
An exclusive neighborhood in Chile's capital Santiago on Thursday became the first municipality in the country to ban smoking in open public spaces such as parks and squares.
Smoking is now off-limits in more than 500 open public spaces in the wealthy Las Condes neighborhood of 300,000 residents, in what appears to be a rare move in South America.
"This is a pioneering regulation in Chile but probably many municipalities will adopt it," said Las Condes mayor Joaquin Lavin.
The measure is similar to those adopted in cities such as New York and aims to keep smoking away from children's play areas and sports fields.
As part of the new rules, areas of more than three hectares (7.5 acres) will have designated smoking areas, Lavin told reporters.
Following a one-month trial period in which fines for non-compliance will be symbolic, infringements will be penalized by up to $345.
These are the latest in increasingly tough anti-smoking laws in Chile where lighting up is already banned in restaurants, bars and nightclubs, and where there are restrictions on tobacco advertising.
Around 30 percent of Chile's 17.5 million inhabitants smoke cigarettes.
The Ministry of Health says this habit is responsible for 45 deaths a day and more than 20,000 heart attacks and cardiac problems resulting in hospitalization.