PHUKET – Popular tourist spot Thailand is introducing a smoking ban on as many as 20 beaches across the country with violation to cost 100,000-baht ($3850) and a year in prison.
The ban was planned after authorities collected 138,000 cigarettes butts on a 2.5-kilometre stretch of Patong beach on the resort island of Phuket and would be enforced from November 1st.
Jatuporn Buruphat, director-general of Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, told newsmen that areas away from beaches would be designated for smokers.
“They can drop their cigarette butts there but they will not be allowed to stroll along the beach while smoking,” he said.
Jatuporn maintained that Thailand will host an international meeting on sea waste in Phuket on Oct 22-23 where Asean countries will discuss the problem of rubbish being dumped into the sea in each country, and how they are dealing with it.
In the first phase, the ban will apply to Mae Pim, Laem Sing, Bang Saen, Cha-am, Khao Takiab, Bo Phut, Haad Sai Ree, Patong, Pattaya, Jomtien, Koh Khai Nok and Koh Khai Nai and others.
After a trial period, the ban is expected to be widened to cover all Thai beaches. Moreover, authorities are also considering banning smoking on passenger and tourist boats.
Thailand is a popular beach destination, with the government predicting a total of 35 million tourist arrivals this year.
Statistics suggest that as much as 10% of the country’s economy is driven by tourism.