Wednesday 12 December 2018

Thailand bans smoking on beaches – 'one cigarette butt can kill fish'

Railay beach in Krabi, Thailand . Photo: Deposit
Railay beach in Krabi, Thailand . Photo: Deposit

Soo Kim

Thailand has announced a smoking ban on 20 of its beaches, including some in major tourist destinations such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Krabi.

Beaches hit by the ban, effective from November 1, were found by inspectors to have been littered with thousands of discarded cigarette butts.

"This does not mean people cannot smoke at all. There will be designated areas for smoking on each beach away from the sea," said Jatuporn Buruspat, the department's director general of the country’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMRC).

Those who fail to comply will be subject to a fine of 100,000 baht (€2,543) and a maximum jail sentence of one year, according to the DMRC. The ban will be run on a trial basis at the 20 beaches but could be rolled out across the rest of the country.

It has yet to be confirmed how long the trial period will last and how the ban will be enforced. 

Among the most popular beaches included, Bangkok Post reports, are Phra Ae and Khlong Dao on Krabi, Tha Wa Sukri in Pattani, Patong in Phuket, and Bo Phut on Koh Samui.

The latest measure follows a report from the DMRC last month which revealed that 101,058 cigarette butts were found on a single 2.5-kilometre stretch on Patong, accounting for 30 per cent of the waste found on the beach, Jatuporn said.

“Cigarette butts are a major source of pollution, both on land and in our oceans, and more than five trillion cigarette filters are produced every year,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

“One cigarette butt in a litre of water can make it toxic enough to kill fish. For these and other reasons, the Thai authorities determined that banning smoking on those beaches was necessary.”

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