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No spliffs or butts, you’ll face jail for lighting up

Hot topic: Smokers
who light up on
beaches such as
Patong in Phuket
face jail and a
large fine PIC: EPA

SMOKERS in Thailand face a year in prison if they light up on any of the country’s 20 most popular beaches, in a crackdown on litter.

Tourist hotspots including Phuket, Koh Samui, Songkhla, and Pattaya will be among those affected, with smokers liable to a £2,300 fine as well as a jail term.

The country’s military government acted after a survey found 138,000 discarded butts on a 1.5-mile stretch of Patong Beach in Phuket.

Jatuporn Buruspat, of the Phuket Marine Biological Center, said he expected the ban to be extended to all of the country’s beaches.

‘Smokers will be required to drop their cigarette butts in provided containers before they enter these beaches,’ he added. ‘No more lighting up while strolling along the beach because that is most likely to end up with a huge number of cigarette butts being dropped on the beaches.’

The ban is due to come into force later this month as Phuket prepares to host an international conference on sea waste. Mr Buruspat warned it may be extended to tourist boats.

A global clean-up organised by US charity Ocean Conservancy recovered 1,863,838 cigarette butts from beaches in 112 countries last year. Mr Buruspat said Thailand had the sixth most littered beaches in the world.

He also claimed cigarettes have left the country at risk of flooding, with drains clogged by more than 100million cigarette butts dropped on roads in Thailand each day.

But the move was criticised as a ‘tourist trap’ by some in Thailand.

‘This stinks somewhat of an easy target,’ wrote Richard Smith in Thai newspaper The Nation. ‘Much like the £45 fines for dropping litter on Sukhumvit, which were levied against foreigners while a multitude of street vendors littered the streets and plugged up the drains with fat with impunity.’