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Officials from the Phuket office of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) have launched their campaign to inform beachgoers of the ban on smoking cigarettes at Patong Beach that came into effect yesterday (Nov 1).
The event marked the start of a 90-day amnesty period before DMCR officials will start charging people for breaching Section 17 of the 2015 law on marine and beach resources management – which means that people caught smoking on Patong Beach after the 90-day amnesty may face a fine of up to B100,000 or even up to one year in jail for a breach of the act.
However, DMCR Director-General Jatuporn Buruspat has confirmed to The Phuket Newsthat the penalties specified under the new ban will now also be applied to people caught littering or dumping any rubbish on the listed protected beaches.
Local authorities responsible for 24 beaches in 15 provinces met at the Government Complex Convention Centre in Bangkok on Tuesday (Oct 31) to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to confirm their stance on supporting the ramped up penalties available to enforce the smoking ban and the move to prevent litter on the beaches, Director Jatuporn told The Phuket News yesterday.
“November 1 is the first day of the campaign. We are starting by informing people in the Patong area about how this ministerial rule by law will be enforced. Then, after 90 days, we will begin fining people.
“The law will be enforced properly from February 2018, when officials will fine people who break this law,” Director Jatuporn warned.
Mr Jatuporn reiterated that the heavy-handed law was introduced after an inspection of nine square metres by 10 centimetres depth of a section of sand on Patong Beach that yielded an average of 0.76 cigarette ends per square metre.
“This is an estimated average of about 101,058 cigarette ends along the 2.5 kilometre stretch of Patong Beach,” he said.
Also present to sign the MoU in Bangkok on Tuesday was Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsup, following her inspection of seven dedicated smoking areas created by Patong Municipality for tourists along the Patong boardwalk.
“Patong officials must cooperate with them [the DMCR] on this project. It is our direct responsibility because it is in our area,” Mayor Chalermluck told The Phuket News.
“We have three months to inform as many people as we can. We have created seven smoking areas along the Patong beachfront with warning signs and more dedicated smoking areas will be created,” she added.
Phuket DMCR official Patpong Romyen and three other officers on Wednesday began their efforts by informing people who work along Patong Beach, such as jet-ski and parasail operators, as well as food and drink vendors, among others.
“They have to understand this information and inform their own customers about it,” Mr Patpong.
“We will have a total of 18 smoking areas along the beachfront and we will have signs warning people about the law. We will post signs in multiple languages so foreign tourists can learn about the law,” he added.
“Next, we will work together with Patong Municipality to conduct a public-information campaign. We will talk with them to come up with the details and action plan next week.”