WITH huge numbers of cigarette butts littering Thailand, the government is looking to maintain cleanliness at 20 of its popular tourist beaches by imposing a smoking ban.
The Marine and Coastal Resources department said the discarded butts make up about one-third of the rubbish collected.
According to the Bangkok Post, the department found 101,0958 butts along the 2.5km-Patong Beach in Phuket on Sept 9, which translates to about 0.76 butts per square metre.
Department’s director-general Jatuporn Burspat said an estimated 100 million butts were left on the roads in Thailand’s major cities each day, compounding the country’s flood woes by clogging drains.
Thai media reported that the move comes ahead of an international conference on sea waste in Phuket scheduled to be held at the end of this month.
Jatuporn said the provinces of Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Songkhla have agreed to take on the ban on the 20 beaches beginning November.
The beaches included Mae Phim in Rayong; Laem Sing in Chanthaburi; Bang Saen, Pattaya and Tham Pang on Koh Si Chang in Chon Buri; Cha-am in Phetchaburi; Hua Hin and Khao Takiap in Prachuap Khiri Khan; Patong in Phuket, among others.
Jatuporn said other beaches in the country were planning to adopt the ban as well.
“Smokers will be required to drop their cigarette butts in provided containers before they enter these beaches…” he said.
“No more lighting up while strolling along the beach because that is most likely to end up with a huge number of cigarette butts being dropped on the beaches.”
He added those found flouting the ban faced a maximum penalty of a year in prison and/or a fine of THB100,000 baht (US$3,000), the Bangkok Post reported.