Thailand is banning smoking on numerous beaches across the country, including in tourist hotspot Phuket.
The move comes in response to Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) reporting it had picked up tens of thousands of cigarette butts from the country’s beaches – making up a third of all beach waste.
Those caught smoking on beaches where it is prohibited could face up to a year in prison or a fine of up to 100,000 baht (£2,280).
There will be “designated areas” for smokers located further inland, according to Jatuporn Buruspat, head of the DMCR, with containers provided to drop butts into.
Buruspat said that his team had collected up to 138,000 cigarette butts on a 2.5km stretch of Patong beach in Phuket. Officials are also looking into the issue of tourists dropping cigarette butts from boats.
The ban is being trialled on 20 beaches in the provinces of Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Songkhla, including Koh Samui and Pattaya, according to the Bangkok Post.
It begins next month and, if successful, will be uniformly adopted across all of Thailand’s beaches.
This comes after a travel agent warned tourists not to vape in Thailand as they could face up to 10 years in prison.
Pat Waterton, manager at Langley Travel, said she was unaware of the ban. She only learnt of the law when her nephew James was forced to pay £125 as an on-the-spot fine after being threatened with jail for having an e-cigarette in Bangkok.
In November 2014, Thailand approved legislation outlawing the import of e-cigarettes into the country. This has since been expanded to the export as well as sale of e-smoking devices and equipment. Although it is common to see people vaping in Thailand, offenders are technically breaking the law as possession is illegal.
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