Malacca becomes Malaysia's first smoking-free city

The Malaysian world heritage city of Malacca will be smoke-free from June 15, a first for the country, the health minister said Monday.

The move was to bring in more tourists and help stamp out smoking in a country where the habit is widespread, Liow Tiong Lai told AFP, insisting it would also help preserve the city.

"The idea is to create fresh air and a clean environment for tourists and Malaysians alike to enjoy the historic city," he said.

"It will also aid in preserving the old monuments and buildings as the ban will reduce pollution in the area and promote a healthy lifestyle."

The no-smoking area covers the entire 4.2 square kilometres (1.6 square miles) of the city and four other areas in the southern state of Malacca.

"These areas will be free from cigarette smoke and make Malacca city the first smoking-free city in the country," said the minister.

"Those caught will be hit with a fine of 300 ringgit (100 dollars) although the maximum penalty is 5,000 ringgit."

Malacca chief minister Mohamad Ali Rustam told the Star daily that the state was also serious about declaring more tourist destinations in the state smoke-free zones.

With more than 500 years of trading and cultural exchanges between East and West, Malacca's multi-cultural heritage is seen its ornately designed government buildings, churches and forts.

It is where the Malay sultanate originated in the 15th century, before being invaded by the Portuguese and Dutch in the early 16th century.

In 2008, UNESCO included Malacca and Georgetown, on the resort island of Penang, in its world heritage list but there have been recent concerns that the southern port city could be de-listed because of redevelopment in its historic quarter.

Malaysia is hoping the heritage listing will boost tourism, which is a key foreign exchange earner.

rb/pst

 

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