Thailand Bans Smoking on Popular Beaches

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The ban will first touch the 20 beaches of Thailand, but subject to the success of this event can apply across the country.

The country's military government acted after a survey found 138,000 discarded butts on a 1.5-mile stretch of Patong Beach in Phuket.

Jatuporn said he made a decision to take action after the Andaman Coastal Resources Research and Development Centre found in a recent survey that there were anything from 63,000 to 138,000 cigarette butts on a 2.5-kilometre stretch of Patong Beach.

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Thailand is introducing a smoking ban on popular beaches across the country including Phuket and those caught violating the law will face up to a year in prison.

Even though smoking is going to be banned in these islands, there will be specifically designated areas where people can smoke. "And then when the chemicals from the cigarette butts reach the water, it also releases cadmium, lead, arsenic and some acid from insecticide which are poison to the natural food chain", said Buruspat to Phuket Gazette.

"The butts clog the drains contributing to floods".

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All other beaches were expected to be included into this ban in the future, he said.

His department is also considering measures to curb a related problem - cigarette butts being dropped into the sea from the boats. On violating the ban, there is a provision of one-year imprisonment or a possible fine of up to 100,000 baht ($3,000), as per BBC.

Among the initial beaches to ban smoking will be Pattaya and Jomtien (Pattaya City), Patong (Phuket), Mae Pim (Rayong), Laem Sing (Chantaburi), Bang Saen (Chonburi), Cha-am (Phetburi), Khao Takiab (Prachuap Khiri Khan), Bo Phut (Koh Samui), Sai Ree (Chumphon), and Koh Khai Nok and Koh Khai Nai (off the coast of Phang Nga). Mr Buruspat said Thailand had the sixth most littered beaches in the world.

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The ban is due to come into force later this month as Phuket prepares to host an global conference on sea waste. ASEAN countries will discuss the problem of rubbish being dumped into the sea in each country, and how they are dealing with it, Jatuporn added.

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