Thailand has issued a ban on smoking and littering at 24 popular tourist beaches to tackle environmental concerns.
The law, instated by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, comes into force on Thursday 1 February.
“Starting today, smoking and cigarette-butt littering are prohibited on beach areas,” Bannaruk Sermthong, a director at the Office of Marine and Coastal Resources Management, told Reuters.
“Anyone who wants to smoke must do so in designated smoking areas, not on the beaches.”
The move comes after the ban was trialled on 20 beaches in the provinces of Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Songkhla, including Koh Samui and Pattaya. The pilot launched in October 2017 after Jatuporn Buruspat, head of Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), reported his team had collected up to 138,000 cigarette butts on a 2.5km stretch of Patong beach in Phuket.
According to the DMCR, cigarette butts accounted for a third of all beach waste.
Designated areas for smokers located further inland were created at beaches with the ban, with containers provided to drop butts into.
Those caught contravening the ban will be taken to criminal court and face up to one year in jail, a fine of up to 100,000 baht (£2,242), or both.