The surrounding waters of Thailand are said to be amongst the worst in the world in terms of discarded rubbish and man-made pollution. And unfortunately to a large degree it is tourists that are to blame. So in a bid to clean up Thailand's beach scene the Thai government will be implementing a smoking ban across select beaches. Those caught breaking the ban may face severe consequences.
Cigarette butts litter Thailand's beaches
The DMCR, Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, has released some shocking statistics regarding the huge number of cigarette butts that are carelessly discarded on beaches by thoughtless holidaymakers. An astonishing 101,058 cigarette ends were collected from a 2.5 km stretch on Patong Beach in the popular resort of Phuket. That's 0.76 cigarettes per square meter!
These recklessly abandoned cigarette butts pose a serious threat to the future of Thailand's idyllic beaches. Talking about the damage caused by leaving cigarettes on the beach, Jatuporn Buruspat, Director General of the DMCR, told The Guardian: "When the cigarettes stay under the beach sand for a long time, it also negatively affects the eco system. 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."
In light of the caused by discarded cigarette, the government is proposing to address the issue through enforcing a smoking ban. It is estimated up to 20 beaches will trial the ban, which will come into effect in November. Affected beaches will include ones found in the popular tourist areas of Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri, Songkhla and Koh Samui.
Those found breaking the new law face some fairly severe penalties. A violation of the smoking ban will either result in the offender being fined 100,000 baht, which equates to around £2,280, or risk face prison sentence of one year.
If successful, the smoking ban could be extended to all of Thailand's sandy stretches, in a slow but steady effort to recover and preserve Thailand's golden beaches and the surrounding waters.