The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources will impose a smoking ban at 20 beaches in November after all of the country’s beaches are found to have been littered with large quantities of cigarette butts.
Jatuporn Burussapat, the director-general of the department, said that in a survey of Pa Tong beach, Phuket, conducted by the department’s research and development centre, an average of 130,000 cigarette butts were found on every 2.5-kilometre stretch of the beach.
According to statistics compiled by countries with sea beaches, cigarette packages and filters constitute one-third of the entire garbage on a beach.
In Thailand, more than 100 million discarded cigarette butts are littered daily on the roads. The cigarette butts block drain pipes. In water, they release toxic chemical substances such as cadmium, lead, arsenic and others which are poisonous to the food chain.
As empowered by Section 17 of the Marine and Coastal Resources Administration Act, the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, in a pilot move, will impose a smoking ban at 20 beaches, starting next month. They include Mae Phim, Laem Sing, Bang Saen, Cha-am, Khao Takiap, Bo Phut, Sai Ree, PaTong, Pattaya, Jomthien and Simira beaches.
The ban will in the future be expanded to cover all beaches, Mr Jatuporn said.
Smoking areas, with receptacles for cigarette butts, will be arranged for smokers before they walk down the beaches.
Those violating the ban will be liable to one year in jail and/or a fine of not exceeding 100,000 baht.
In the near future, throwing of cigarette butts from passenger boats and tour boats into the sea and well as smoking on these boats will also be banned. The Marine Department will be consulted about this matter, Mr Jatuporn said.