The ban, effective November 1, will be imposed on popular beaches across Thailand, including Patong beach in the southern city of Phuket, the eastern city of Pattaya and Hua Hin and Cha Am south of the capital.
Smoking will be banned on up to 20 beaches in Thailand after a massive amount of cigarette butts were found on the beaches, the country's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources told on Tuesday. Thailand is a popular beach destination, with the government predicting a total of 35 million tourist arrivals this year.
On Patong beach alone, more than 138,000 cigarette butts were found last month. "Cigarette butts accounted for 30 per cent of the waste found," said Jatuporn Buruspat, the department's director general. "This does not mean people cannot smoke at all. There will be designated areas for smoking on each beach away from the sea," Jatuporn added. Its introduction coincides with Thailand's peak tourist season and will be enforced in visitor hotspots including Krabi, Koh Samui, Pattaya, Phuket and Phang Nga. "These beaches are among the most beautiful in Southeast Asia, and the aim is to keep them that way," Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said in a statement.
Failure to comply with the new regulation will result in a 100,000-baht (3,000-dollar) fine and a maximum jail term of one year, according to the department. The ban on the 20 beaches will serve as a trial run before all other beaches in Thailand could implement the no-smoking rule. Images of a huge pile of garbage on a beach in Pattaya surfaced on the internet and made headlines last month, leading local officials to quickly clean up the beach.
is/ch (dpa, afp)