Starting Feb. 1, smoking will be strictly banned on all Thai beaches, which means having even a quick ciggie could land you in a Thai prison for a year or fined up to THB100,000 ($US3,000).
On Wednesday, Thailand launched a 90-day trial of the cigarette ban, prohibiting smoking on 24 beaches. During this three-month period, authorities will kick off a campaign to inform beachgoers of the law but won’t punish violators until the amnesty period ends, Prachachart reported.
The 24 beaches that have banned smoking include some of the country’s most popular destinations, including Patong, Phuket; Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan; Bo Phut, Koh Samui; Chalok Baan Kao, Koh Phangan; Khao Lak, Pangha; and Kor Kwang, Krabi.
The ban will be anchored in the marine park law and comes on the heels of the shocking discovery of more than 60,000 cigarettes on a 2.5-kilometer stretch of sand on Phuket’s Patong beach.
In Patong, seven designated smoking areas have been set up across the beach this week, The Phuket News reported.
“We will have a total of 18 smoking areas along the beachfront, and we will have signs warning people about the law. We will post signs in multiple languages so foreign tourists can learn about the law,” said Patpong Romyen, a Phuket official from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.
While the law is meant to rid the cigarette butts on beaches, it also prohibits littering on the beach — or any action seen as damaging to the pristine sands. And yes, this means drunkenly throwing away a plastic bottle on the beach could get you in some serious trouble.