By Charlotte Day

Picture this: you’re sitting on a golden, sandy beach in Koh Samui, Thailand whilst admiring the breath-taking view of the sunset. Paradise. Yet this an idyllic moment could soon turn sour if you were to light up a cigarette – we’re talking of you being left with a fine of £2,280, or even having to spend up to one year in prison…

Every year, the millions of tourists that travel to Thailand each year are carelessly discarding their cigarette butts on the sand; Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) has stated that it collects thousands of cigarette butts from the nation’s beaches. In fact, the department declared that 138,000 cigarette butts had been collected from just a 1.5 mile stretch of beach in Phuket.

Consequently, the DMCR has announced that it is introducing a smoking ban on up to 20 of the popular holiday destination’s beaches, with penalties if you fail to adhere to it. If the ban proves to be successful, it could soon be applied across the entire nation. Note that the DMCR have declared that they will be providing “designated areas” further inland for smokers where they will have the opportunity to rid themselves of their waste “in provided containers”

This ban stands alongside some other rather unusual Thai laws and customs. For example, you cannot bring e-cigarettes and vaporizers into Thailand; if found in possession with one, you could face a fine or, if convicted, up to 10 years in prison. Also, it is key to remember that the Thai government take drug use and possession very seriously. If you are found to be in possession of 20 grams of a class A drug at a point of exit from the country, you risk the death penalty. It is also illegal to import more than 200 cigarettes into Thailand – exceed the limit, and you face a fine of up to 10 times the face value price of the cigarettes.

Thailand nevertheless remains a must-see destination for travel lovers. Its beautiful temples, busy metropolises and miles of magnificent beaches are well-worth a visit. Just be sure to keep in mind the country’s laws, even if they may seem a little peculiar to us. For more travel advice specific to Thailand, check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s information out. If you’re travel aware, you’re much less likely to find yourself in a tricky situation abroad.

It's not just Koh Samui that is affected by the new law, also beaches in Pattaya, Phukut, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Songkhla provinces.