Tourists should be aware that starting from 1st February 2018, it will be illegal to smoke on twenty four popular beaches around Thailand. If you are caught smoking or dropping cigarette butts on the beach, then you could face a fine of up to 100,000 Baht and/or a maximum of one year in prison. Information about this was published in the Royal Gazette back in November and then it officially becomes law 90 days later. Over the last three months, authorities have been putting up “No Smoking” signs at all of these beaches, as well as designating smoking areas. During the trial period, violators were only given a warning. Now that it has become law, you could face a hefty fine if you light up. Don’t say you haven’t been warned as it has been widely published. Even some foreign offices, like the one in the UK, have issued travel advice on this.
The twenty four beaches are:
- Ban Cheun Beach, Trat
- Laem Sade Beach, Chanthaburi
- Saeng Chan Beach, Rayong
- Bang Kaen Beach, Chon Buri
- Tham Pang Beach, Chon Buri
- Sai Kaeo Beach, Chon Buri
- Dong Tan Beach, Chon Buri
- Cha-am Beach, Phetchaburi
- Hua Hin Beach, Prachuap Khiri Khan
- Khao Takiab Beach, Prachuap Khiri Khan
- Hat Said Res Beach, Champhon
- Bo Phut Beach, Ko Samui, Surat Thani
- Chalok Ban Kao Beach, Ko Phangan, Surat Thani
- Plai Sai Beach, Nakhon Si Thammarat
- Chalatat Beach, Songkhla
- Wasukree Beach, Pattani
- Patong Beach, Phuket
- Ko Kai Nok Beach, Phang-nga
- Ko Kai Nai Beach, Phang-nga
- Khao Lak Beach, Phang-nga
- Phra Ae Beach, Krabi
- Khlong Dao Beach, Krabi
- Khok Wang Beach, Krabi
- Hat Samran Beach, Trang
Please note, more beaches will be added in the future. So please don’t smoke and litter on any beach.
Related news: Electronic cigarettes are illegal in Thailand
So, why do they ban smoking on the beaches? Is it really for health reasons? The answer to that is yes and no. It started as way to protect coastal resources. This is because the number one source of litter on beaches in Thailand are cigarette butts. What they did in their initial research was pick ten spots on a beach, 200 meters apart. Each one was nine square meters. They dug down about 10cms. In just one spot they found 116 discarded cigarette butts. They then did a survey of 15 coastal provinces. On Bangsaen Beach, they found 106,480 cigarette butts along a 3.8km stretch of beach. The worst beach was in Songkhla where they found 177,000 cigarette butts along a 2.2km stretch of beach. This worked out at 3.56 cigarette butts per square meter.
I know a lot of people will disagree with this new law, but banning cigarette smoking on beaches is an easy and obvious first step to protect the marine life. Of course, banning plastic bottles, straws and bags would also help as we have all seen these kinds of rubbish on the beach. But, unfortunately, these things are less easy to control as they can be washed up from miles around. Hopefully the government will make a better effort on banning plastic bags nationwide. Not only on beaches. The same goes for straws and plastic bottles. On one of my recent trips to the islands down south, I was heartened to see a local initiative where people were offered free water refills if they used a reusable water bottle. I hope things like that will spread. Much the same as what is happening with Trash Hero now and their regular beach clean-ups. Instead of just complaining about it, people are now taking matters into their own hands.