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What Ocean Get When You Smoke

February 21, 2019
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We realise that this headline is pretty drastic and improbable. Quitting smoking, is not going to solve all the pollution problems in the world’s oceans.

But it serves as a reminder that the oceans are suffering from our day to day negligence and disregard for proper disposal methods of our waste. This includes the hundreds of thousands of cigarette-butts littering Phuket’s beaches.

In the past, Phuket’s beaches were considered little more than the world’s biggest ashtrays by tourist and local smokers. These smokers obviously thought that one little cigarette butt on the beach wouldn’t matter all that much, but they failed to see the bigger picture. Their attitude was shared by thousands of other smokers making it much more than just a little problem but in fact, causing a drastic effect on the oceans environment.

There are over 100 known poisons in one cigarette and 60 of these poisons are known cancer-causing agents.

Every cigarette-butt littering the beaches of Phuket is leaching these poisons into the sand and water. They are being absorbed into the bloodstreams of the fish and marine life that live in these waters and adding to the dire pollution problem that haunts the world’s oceans. The plastic and poisons in cigarette-butts can stay in the oceans ecosystem for ten years or more, continuously poisoning any marine animal that comes into contact with it.

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The risk on Marine Animals

As we all know, lots of marine animals are in danger of extinction because of the changes in our world, hunting, global warming or pollution. Recently Scientists found that 70% of the poisons contained in cigarette-butts were apparent in seabird populations and 30% were found in sea turtle populations. This will eventually kill the seabird, sea turtles and other sea animals in the oceans, even huge animals like whales. Cigarette butts account for almost 20% of waste dredged out of the oceans, an appalling amount considering the small size of a single cigarette-butt. It is estimated that cigarette-butts account for over 500,000 tons of pollution every year.  

Not only cigarette butts but also it’s plastic package can also be mistaken as a jellyfish or other food items, which means the animals could easily be killed because of that as well.

The decreasing of Coral Reef

Coral reef is one of the main attraction for families, tourist and divers due to its beautiful and colorful feature. More than 25 percent of the ocean’s fish depend on coral reef, it is one of their most important habitat where they find food, reproduce and nurse their youngs. But because of many threats such as the climate change and pollutions which affects the ecosystem greatly, it causes the ocean temperature to rise which leads to coral bleaching and possible death.

With more people smoking and throwing their cigarette butts everywhere, it all ended up in the ocean which means more pollution and it’s very toxic for marine lives including coral reefs.

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Not only the Ocean but also the Sand and People as well

Most children would enjoy playing on the beach building sand castle or other adults might like to sunbathe or sit and relax to enjoy their time, but with more and more cigarette butts being littered everywhere makes it much more dangerous for people’s health especially small childrens. Most importantly, it makes the beach much more dirty than it is, the smell isn’t great, children might touch it without knowing how toxic it can be while birds can also mistaken it as a food and eat it which could be very harmful for their life.

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Taking a Positive Step

In 2018 the government also announced that 24 beaches throughout the country would permanently be classified as no smoking beaches as the numbers of cigarette-butts found in the sands of these beaches had become alarming. As of the 1st of February, these beaches have banned any smoking or littering on them whatsoever.

Patong Beach is among the beaches included in the ban along with Ko Kai Nok Beach, Ko Kai Nai Beach and Khao Lak Beach in the Phang Na area off Phuket. Krabi also benefits by having the ban applied to Phra Ae Beach, Khlong Dao Beach and Khok Wang Beach. Those who fail will be fine upto 100,000 Baht and maximum jail sentence of over a year.

Things are looking hopeful because visitor and locals and willing to be more respectful to Thailand’s beaches by the imposition of this ban. They plan to add more beaches in the near future until every beach has a smoking ban.  

But it’s up to the public as well to obey these new rules and understand why they are necessary. The public has to be educated as to the plight of the world’s ocean so we can hope to enjoy the beautiful beaches and waters of Thailand for years to come.

Rental for the Holidays supports the efforts of the Thai government in banning smoking from the beaches of Thailand and we hope that everyone will be willing to help keep our ocean’s ecosystem clean as possible and save one of the world’s most valuable resources from being destroyed by us humans.