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Smoking ban implemented at Angkor Wat

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A face adorning a stone tower at Bayon Temple in Siem Reap province in 2011. Photograph: Will Baxter/Phnom Penh Post

The throngs of tourists who make their way to Cambodia’s greatest national treasure each year may still have to deal with heat and crowds, but they can check cigarette smoke off the list of potential annoyances.

All tourists, residents and guides have been prohibited from smoking in the Angkor Archaeological Park.

The ban was formally imposed last month, but the Apsara Authority only began promoting the new ordinance in earnest last week.

“We want to protect our temples from fire and ashes and keep a good environment in the park,” Sok Leakena, deputy director general of Apsara, the organisation in charge of the management of the temples, said yesterday.

Nearby residents can still smoke in their own homes, said Tan Sambu, vice-secretary general of Apsara, which at this point does not plan to fine tourists who break the ban.

While officials said they cannot recall any serious fires caused by smoking inside the park, more than 10 hectares of forest near the complex burned in February during a blaze in Siem Reap’s Norkor Thom commune, spreading to within seven kilometres of the temples.

To contact the reporter on this story: Xiaoqing Pi at newsroom@phnompenhpost.com

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