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Asia Minute: Thailand’s Growing Beach Ban on Smoking

Petr Kratochvil
Public Domain Pictures

It’s been illegal to smoke on the beach in Hawai‘i for some time. It was nearly two and a half years ago that a state-wide ban on smoking at state parks and beaches went into effect. But that’s a new development on some popular beaches elsewhere in the Pacific. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Thailand has now banned smoking at two dozen of its most popular beaches stretched across 15 provinces. And the penalties are quite severe—offenders could face fines of up to about 3,200 U.S. dollars AND up to a year in a Thai prison.

The smoking ban has had a trial run in four provinces since last October.

Credit Phuket@photographer.net / Flickr
Nai Harn Beach, Phuket Island, Thailand

One event that helped push the central government to cut beach smoking was the experience of a team from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. Staffers cleaned a stretch of Patong beach in the tourist magnet of Phuket, and over about a mile and a half they collected some 138,000 cigarette butts.

Smoking on the beach has also been restricted elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

In Singapore, it’s been banned for decades.

In the Philippines, last year President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order outlawing smoking in public across the country—including beaches.

One regional outlier remains Indonesia.

Smoking restrictions are rare in the country and cigarette advertising is common—even television commercials.

The World Health Organization says Indonesia has one of the highest smoking rates in the world with 65% of males over the age of 15 lighting up every day.

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