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Thailand bans smoking, littering at popular tourist beaches

BANGKOK Thailand banned smoking and littering at 24 popular beachside locations over environmental concerns yesterday, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said.

Thailand has been a tourist magnet for decades, from its backpacker heyday in the early 1990s to its current popularity with tourists from China. It expects to welcome a record 37.55 million tourists this year.

Environmental rights groups have urged successive governments to protect Thailand's beaches from unregulated development and littering, among other things.

Yesterday's ban is aimed at this problem, said Mr Bannaruk Sermthong, a director at the Office of Marine and Coastal Resources Management.

"Anyone who wants to smoke must do so in designated smoking areas, not on the beaches," Mr Bannaruk told Reuters.

Anyone who breaks the law could face up to one year in jail, or a fine of up to 100,000 baht (S$4,200), or both.

Thailand has 357 beaches nationwide. - REUTERS

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