With much of Asia there’s a relatively relaxed attitude to the cigarette. I remember seeing unreasonably cheap cartons from international brands in the Philippines and Vietnam. In South Korea, an ashtray full of cigarette butts in a toilet can come as a shock to us Westerners but is not uncommon, especially in some slightly older buildings in the modern East Asian Nation.
Thailand though has, as many of our teach English abroad participants can confirm, been a little different. Cigarette prices have been on par or more expensive than in other developing countries like South Africa as they’re taxed heavily and the country has been ramping up bans on smoking in public places and the importing or exporting of e-cigarettes. The latest in the government’s bid to have a cleaner, healthier country: banning smoking on 20 of the country’s most popular tourist beaches.
A survey done recently by Thailand’s department of marine and coastal resources found that the country’s most popular tourist beach, Patong Beach in Phuket, likely had over 100,000 cigarette butts strewn across it’s golden sands. This has caused huge alarm amongst the authorities as the chemicals and materials in the butts pose a serious risk to contamination of both marine and land-based ecosystems.
So what can you can you expect if you’re caught smoking on one of these beaches? Anything up to a 100,000 Baht ($3000) fine. While Thailand has a reputation for being lax on enforcing many of its laws, recent news indicates that the smoking ban might be taken just a little more seriously. The Independent reports that one British man was recently fined the equivalent of £125 (about 5,500 Baht) for his use of an e-cigarette in Bangkok after being threatened with jail time.
The beach ban however, will roll out to all beaches in Thailand after an undisclosed trial period but for now here’s the list of the most popular ones where you can currently expect a fine:
- Koh Lanta: Phra Ae & Khlong Dao
- Koh Yao: Koh Khai Nok, Koh Khai Nai
- Pattani: Tha Wa Sukri
- Koh Samui: Bo Phut
- Phuket: Patong
- Hua Hin: Khao Takiap and Hua Hin Beach (where TravelBud’s Teach in Thailand Orientation is held)
- Petchaburi: Ch-Am
Our advice? Keep those bums on the beach with cash in their pockets by having a puff in a designated smoking area far away from the surf – and make sure you discard those butts as you would back home in the trash can.
Interested in Teaching English in Thailand? We’ll send you more info!