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Asia Minute: Smoking on Some Thai Beaches Could Mean Jail Time

logoline11 / Pixabay
logoline11 / Pixabay

It’s been several years since smoking was banned on beaches across Hawai‘i. Now, a popular tourist destination in Asia is trying a similar approach on a number of beaches—but with very different penalties. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Starting next month, if you light up on certain beaches in Thailand it might cost you quite a bit.

It could even send you to prison.

If you smoke on the beach in Hawai‘i, the first time fine is $100 , and that can go up to $500 for repeat offenders.

Smokers at 20 beaches in Thailand will soon be facing much stiffer penalties. Those include fines of nearly 4,000 U.S. dollars, and up to a year in prison.

Thailand already has high taxes on cigarettes and restrictions on public smoking.

But this latest move is not just focused on health concerns—it’s also about beach pollution.

The Bangkok Post reports a team from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources recently patrolled a stretch of beach about a mile and a half long on the island of Phuket.

They collected 138,000 cigarette butts.

Thailand is not the only place in Southeast Asia a smoke on the beach might send you to jail.

Last year the Philippines tightened its anti-smoking laws, and in some locations lighting up in the wrong place, including some beaches, could land you behind bars for as long as four months.

As for Thailand, smoking will be allowed in designated areas away from the water, and if the pilot program with those initial 20 beaches is successful; the smoking ban on beaches could go nationwide.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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