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Thailand’s popular beaches receive over a million visits from British tourists alone annually, besides those who are here on long stay visas. In 2018, Thailand has projected to welcome more than 37 million tourists from all around the globe. On a more serious note, The Bangkok Post also reported that Thailand ranks No.6 when it comes to rubbish-strewn areas of sea in the world. That’s why the country has already started to ban smoking on over 20 popular tourist beaches. The aim is to end drain damage and pollution on Thai beaches caused by used cigarette butts. If you are caught lighting up, you could be charged with a year’s imprisonment.

Why is the Ban being Imposed?

Millions of foreign tourists visit Patong beach, Phuket each year. A recent survey has shown that an average of 0.76 discarded cigarette butts per square metre. This indicates that there are nearly 102,000 butts found on the 2.5km-long stretch of sand. Thailand’s department of marine and coastal resources has reported this is a grave problem that needs to end. Those unwanted cigarette butts have form a third of rubbish collected by the department. Director General Jatuporn Buruspat has pointed out that cigarettes have a direct impact on the natural environment.

  • Beaches Affected by the Smoking Ban
  • Patong Beach, Phuket
  • Khao Lak Beach, Phang-nga
  • Ko Kai Nok Beach, Phang-nga
  • Plai Sai Beach, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Hat Said Res Beach, Champhon
  • Dong Tan Beach, Chon Buri
  • Tham Pang Beach, Chon Buri
  • Saeng Chan Beach, Rayong
  • Ban Cheun Beach, Trat
  • Hua Hin Beach, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Khok Wang Beach, Krabi
  • Phra Ae Beach, Krabi
  • Bo Phut Beach, Koh Samui
  • Khlong Dao Beach, Krabi
  • Wasukree Beach, Pattani
  • Khao Takiab Beach, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Laem Sade Beach, Chanthaburi
  • Bang Kaen Beach, Chon Buri
  • Sai Kaeo Beach, Chon Buri
  • Cha-am Beach, Phetchaburi
  • Chalok Ban Kao Beach, Ko Phangan, Surat Thani
  • Chalatat Beach, Songkhla
  • Ko Kai Nai Beach, Phang-nga
  • Hat Samran Beach, Trang

How do Cigarette Butts Harm the Environment?

When cigarette butts clog the drains, it will be easier for floods to occur. What’s more, the butts can negatively affect the eco system when they stay under the beach sand for an extended period of time. Cigarette butts contain chemicals which can be released when they come into contact with water. Insecticide acids, arsenic, lead, and cadmium are some of the contents that are being released. They can poison the natural food chain over time. Research has shown that one cigarette butt in a litre of water can toxify it enough to kill fish. That’s the Thai authorities came to a conclusion that banning smoking on popular beaches was a necessity.

How Long will it Take for the Ban to Take Full Effect?

The ban will come into play in November. After a brief trial period—to ensure everyone is more familiar with the new rule—the ban will be officially rolled out on all Thai beaches. To tackle the growing issue of cigarette butts causing damage to the underwater ecosystem, the ban is also expected to be enforced on both tourist and passenger boats.

What Happens if You Breach the Ban?

There will be designated zone for smokers and it will be located further inland. Thai authorities will also provide containers for smokers to dispose their cigarettes into. If you are found breaching the ban, you not only face the possibility of a year’s jail, but a maximum 100,000 baht fine as well. That’s approximately £2,285.

Is the Smoking Ban a Good Idea?

While many smokers will disagree with this new law, it seems that the ban is necessary to protect the marine life. Of course, banning smoking on beaches should not be the only solution. Banning the improper disposal of plastic bags, straws, bottles, and other forms of rubbish on the beach is necessary. However, these things are more difficult to control as they are usually washed up from miles around.

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