Pattaya kicks off smoking ban PR push

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Mayor Anan Charoenchasri, city council members and Marine Department officials kicked off a public-relations campaign about Thailand’s new law banning smoking on the beach.
Mayor Anan Charoenchasri, city council members and Marine Department officials kicked off a public-relations campaign about Thailand’s new law banning smoking on the beach.

Pattaya kicked off its public-relations campaign about Thailand’s new law banning smoking on the beach with yoga and a parade.

Mayor Anan Charoenchasri, city council members and Marine Department officials marched along Dongtan Beach Dec. 4, handing out flyers and waving signs notifying beachgoers that, starting Feb. 1, they faced stiff penalties for lighting up on the sand.

The event began with a yoga session – meant to stress the benefits of healthy, tobacco-free living – that saw public officials, beach vendors and masseuses do their best to stretch.

The rally concluded with authorities putting “no smoking” signs in public restrooms.

Thailand was ranked as having the sixth dirtiest beaches in the world in a 2015 North American survey, with Bangsaen in Chonburi and Mae Pim in Rayong among those singled out. A chief contributor to the pollution is cigarette butts, authorities said.

The government imposed the cigarette ban in October, but public backlash and lack of preparation by local authorities forced officials to backtrack and delay enforcement of the ban until Feb. 1.

Under the new law, smokers could be fined up to 100,000 baht and even a year in prison. Stiff penalties also apply to those caught selling cigarettes on the beach.