That last, sad sanctuary for smokers in transit — the glass menagerie known as the smoking lounge — is officially gone from Thailand’s most important international airports.
As of yesterday, new regulations went into effect prohibiting smoking both inside and outside of the six airports under the jurisdiction of the Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited (AOT): Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang in Bangkok, Phuket International Airport, Chiang Mai International Airport, Hat Yai International Airport and Mae Fah Luang–Chiang Rai International Airport.
New outdoor smoking areas will be introduced at some point in the future, per the Bangkok Post, though a person answering the phone for AOT this afternoon told Coconuts Bangkok that there is no timeline yet in place for that.
Wing Commander Suthirawat Suwanawat, acting manager of AOT and managing director of Suvarnabhumi airport, said the new regulation aligns with the 2017 Tobacco Control and Act as well as the 2018 Public Health Ministry announcement requiring government agencies and state enterprises to prohibit smoking in public areas to protect non-smokers, reported Spring News.
Violators will be fined up to THB5,000 (about US$160). So feel free to take your chances if you’re loaded.
“This is not normal! An international Airport must have a smoking room… Now you will lose more tourists! Please change this now! That is no good for Thailand!” cried one commenter (and we’re gonna assume heavy smoker) on AOT’s Facebook page.
AOT replied to the commenter assuring them that the outdoor area was “in progress” — again, without providing any sort of timeline for said area.
“Even countries with tight control regarding smoking in public has smoking rooms in their airports. And how about foreigners, where will they go?…This is hiding the problem behind the carpet, not solving it,” another netizen wrote, to which AOT apologized for the “inconvenience.”
AOT was created in 2002 as a result of the privatization of the Airport Authority of Thailand (AAT). It grew quickly until last year the company became the most valuable airport operator in the world, according to Bloomberg.
So what do you think dear readers? Yay or nay on smoking lounges? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @CoconutsBangkok.