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Welcome to Sellia, Italy: The Town That Just Made Dying a Crime

Mayor Davide Zicchinella has a radical—if slightly tongue in cheek—plan to keep his citizens healthy.

image via (cc) flickr user paolomargari

In Sellia, Italy, staying healthy isn’t just a matter of good hygienic practice—it’s the law. There, Mayor Davide Zicchinella recently ruled that it is now illegal for the town’s residents to get sick and die.

Admittedly, it’s not the most enforceable legislation.

In fact, it’s not so much meant to be taken seriously as law, at all. Rather, the new...let’s call it a “policy recommendation”… is designed to hammer home the importance of staying healthy to the small town’s 500 or so citizens, more than half of whom are over the age of 65. While getting sick and/or dying won’t land any newly-criminal Sellians in the slammer, residents who schedule an annual physical at the town’s nearby health center will receive a small tax credit, instead.

Sellia now joins the very small number of communities around the world which have banned death within their city limits. Towns in France, Brazil, Japan, and Spain have each, in various ways, legislated against dying, with reasons ranging from the necessity for spiritual purity, to limited burial space.

Speaking with TGcom24, Mayor Zicchinella is quoted as saying, “Our citizens response has been more than encouraging. It's a result that embraces the spirit of this initiative” (translation via The Local).

This new policy is more than simply a health measure designed to keep the town’s residents in tip-top shape. It is, in some ways, an attempt to save the town, itself. Digital Journal points out that Italy’s stagnant population growth, coupled with an increasingly elderly citizenry, and pattern of migration toward larger cities by younger residents, means small communities such as Sellia are in danger of simply aging out of existence. But there’s reason to believe that Mayor Zicchinella’s plan might actually be making a difference: Since criminalizing illness, Sellia’s local health clinic has reportedly logged 100 new appointments for annual check-ups.

Hey, it’s the law.

[via digital journal]

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