No ifs, no butts - beach smoking in Thailand is banned

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It comes after the country's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) reported that it had retrieved tens of thousands of cigarette butts left in the sand throughout the beaches in the country.

Laws outlawing beach smoking will be anchored in marine park law, which means that illegal smoking could carry penalties as stiff as fines of THB100,000 (about US$3,000) or up to a year in jail.

The ban will first be imposed on 20 popular beaches in places such as Hua Hin, Pattaya and Patong starting in November.

Signs will be erected in three languages - Thai, English and Chinese.

Ekawit Pinyothammanothai, chairman of the Krabi Tourism Industry Council, said he agreed with the ban but hoped there would be time to raise public awareness before it took effect.

As told the head of the Department of marine and coastal resources of Thailand Chetuphon Boraphet (Jatuporn Buruspat), Smoking causes significant damage to marine and coastal resources.

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Thailand is banning smoking on numerous beaches across the country, including in tourist hotspot Phuket.

Jatuporn said the ban had been discussed with provincial governors and local administrations.

The 20 beaches involved include Mae Pim, Laem Sing, Bang Saen, Cha-am, Khao Takiab, Bo Phut, Haad Sai Ree, Patong, Pattaya, Jomthien, Koh Khai Nok and Koh Khai Nai.

The figure was estimate based on a sampling survey of a 9-square-metre area to a depth of 10 centimetres.

"Cigarette butts accounted for 30 per cent of the waste found", said Jatuporn Buruspat, the department's director general. The survey found an average of 0.76 cigarette butt per square metre of sand.

Buruspat added that the smoking ban will be extended to all beaches in Thailand in the future. Officials are also looking into the issue of tourists dropping cigarette butts from boats. 'No more lighting up while strolling along the beach because that is most likely to end up with a huge number of cigarette butts being dropped on the beaches'.

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