Government defers smoke-free beaches till next year

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Bangkok (AP) – As Pattaya geared up to introduce its own beach smoking ban today, government officials in Bangkok signed an MOU with other public and private sector members to try to solve the problem of cigarette butts littering many of the country’s coastlines.

The minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Surasak Kanjanarat, together with representatives from the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, came to witness the signing of the agreement on Tuesday in Bangkok.

While smoking is not totally banned on beaches, tourists will now only be allowed to smoke in designated areas.  Officials at the meeting said these new regulations will only come into effect on February 1, 2018, deferring the implementation from the earlier announced date of November 1 this year in order to give members of the public more time to become accustomed to the new laws.

Surasak said that waste has become one of the biggest problems in Thailand and that every sector must pay attention to solving this problem together, by being conscious of the environment at all times.

Reducing the number of cigarette butts along the coast is a pilot ‘zero waste’ project on the beaches. Cigarette filters contain various toxins, nicotine and other dangerous substances, which are harmful to marine life, people and the environment.

There are 24 beaches in 15 provinces engaged in this project, including Pattaya and Bangsaen beaches in Chonburi. The authorities will work to increase tourist awareness of this new regulation, but the Minister expressed confidence that the measure will not negatively affect tourism.