Thailand has recently introduced stricter smoking laws with offenders facing a fine of up to 5,000 Baht. Smokers visiting Thailand should take note that smoking is now not just banned inside some buildings, but also outside if it is too close to a public entrance or exit. This is a significant change that may catch tourists unaware if they light up a cigarette outside a hotel, pub or restaurant. The new regulations from the Ministry of Public Health came into force in February this year.
What does the new smoking law say?
Smoking is already prohibited inside many venues and on public transport. The key point from the new law is that smoking is banned if it is directly outside various public buildings. There is now a 5-metre ‘exclusion zone’ outside public entrances and exits where it is illegal to smoke. More than 80 types of buildings and venues are covered under the new smoking law which includes:
- amusement parks and water parks
- banks/cash machines/ATMs
- cinemas and other entertainment venues
- condos, apartments & rental buildings
- fitness parks and gyms
- government offices
- hospitals and clinics
- grocery stores
- massage and spa venues
- public parking areas
- religious buildings
- schools and nurseries
- shopping malls
- swimming pools
- toilets (public toilets)
- various transportation areas including bus stops, piers and taxi/mini-van stands
In some cases, designated smoking rooms will be allowed at transportation hubs and other venues. Under the new laws, no smoking signs are to be made more prominent. The wording on cigarette packets and advertising used will also fall under stricter regulations.
Smoking at airports
Airports of Thailand (AOT) have announced they will be closing the smoking rooms at a number of Thai airports. The airport smoking rooms at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai, and Phuket will all be closed.
The 5-metre exclusion zone around entrances and exits also applies to public areas at airports. AOT previously announced there would still be designated smoking areas outside airport terminals, but there has been conflicting information about this. Before lighting up, smokers should pay extra attention to look for official signs to see if smoking is actually permitted or not.
No smoking at Thai beaches
The new regulations add to existing laws which prohibit smoking at a number of beaches in Thailand. At the moment, no smoking signs at beaches aren’t always clear and smokers need to be extra careful not to break the law. There is also the likelihood in the future that more of Thailand’s beaches will be no smoking zones.
Visitors to the kingdom should also note that Thailand prohibits vaping and e-cigarettes. Although the law isn’t always enforced, there have been cases of tourists being arrested for vaping in public.