Thailand’s beaches are among its greatest draw cards for tourists and from today when a beach smoking ban begins being enforced they’re going to start getting cleaner.
From February 1 authorities will begin enforcing a smoking ban on 24 of the country’s most popular beaches in 15 provinces, with anyone caught breaking the ‘no smoking beach’ regulations subject to a fine of up to Bt100,000 (about US$3,192), and/ or 12 months in jail.
The smoking ban was announced last October and since then local officials, the police, and the always present Royal Thai Army (RTA) have been conducting public information programmes to spread the word, including producing brochures printed in Thai, Chinese and English in some locations.
After three months of warnings and ensuring that ‘no smoking beaches’ have been well signposted and designated smoking zones established, today the axe will come down and those caught breaking the ban will be subject to fines and/ or jail. And those who think they can get around the ban with an e-cigarette should think again.
Smoking an e-cigarette anywhere in Thailand can land you with a ten year jail sentence and a fine of up to five times the value of the device that you are caught with. Just last week an elderly Israeli couple on holiday in Thailand were fined a total of $1,200 for smoking e-cigarettes in public.
The smoking ban on Thailand beaches follows studies last year which found up to 138,000 cigarette butts on each 2.5 kilometre (1.39 miles) stretch of Thai coast, with one test location in the Southern Thailand province of Songkhla unearthing more than 1,770,000 cigarette butts.
Thailand’s Smoke Free Beaches
Among the Thailand beaches designated ‘smoke free’ are those in Pattaya, Jomtien, Phuket, Cha-Am, Hua Hin, Bang Saen, Pangnga, Samila, Songkhla, Mae Phim, and Laem Singh.
However, the government has warned that this is just the beginning and soon all beaches in the country will be designated ‘smoke free’, while plans are afoot to enforcing a no smoking ban on all passenger and pleasure boats in Thai waters.
The smoking ban is the latest crackdown implemented by the Thai government in its quest to rid the country of its title of being the sixth worst polluter of the ocean in the world.
An environment conference in Bangkok last November was told that a study by the University of Georgia, USA, had found that in 2016 Thailand was the sixth worst polluter of the ocean globally.
According to the study, every person in Thailand uses an average of eight plastic bags a day, while only 19 per cent of the 73,000 tons of garbage produced nation-wide each day is recycled. In some locations plastic comprised some 30 per cent of garbage.
Feature video NBT News Today
- Booze sales banned on beach starting in Oct. (Pattaya Mail)
- Elderly Israeli couple arrested in Thailand for using e-cigarette (Jerusalem Online)
- Beach smoking ban takes effect Thursday (Pattaya Mail)
He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia.
He has covered major world events including the 1991 pillage riots in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010 and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Prior to AEC News Today he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.