Despite smoking ban, tourists keep puffing away at Thailand’s popular beaches

Some locals say the smoking tourists insist on puffing away while seated on their rented chairs. Source: Shutterstock

EARLIER this week, Thailand began enforcing its smoking ban at some of its most popular beaches but it seems that not many tourists are happy with the new ruling.

In a move to preserve its pristine environment, the Department of Marine and Coastal resources began prohibiting tourists from lighting up in Dongtan beach, Pattaya, as the first beach among 24 beaches in 15 provinces. However, the pilot project did not go off to a good start as many visitors have ignored the ban.

According to the Bangkok Post, two public toilets off the beach behind the deck chair area were designated as smoking zones but foreign tourists have refused to use them.

Some locals say the tourists insist on puffing away while seated on their rented chairs.

A rented chair operator Chatchawal Simmasuk said he was among the chair kiosk operators who abided by the ruling.

The two toilets situated behind the beach, which is known as Thailand’s most popular gay beach, were allocated smoking areas.

(File) The smoking ban was imposed on Dec 4. Source: Shutterstock

Chatchawal said operators and locals would talk to tourists whenever they started smoking at the prohibited zones to ask them to go to the designated areas instead.

He noted that many tourists appeared upset when they were told to do so as they had paid to use the chairs.

The ban, he said, was mostly unpopular among tourists who used to be able to smoke freely.

Earlier, the Marine and Coastal Resources department said discarded cigarette butts make up about one-third of the rubbish collected on one single beach.

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.

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.