Pope Francis has outlawed the sale of cigarettes at the Vatican in a bid to lead by example on healthy living. “The Holy Father has decided that the Vatican will cease to sell cigarettes to employees as of 2018,” the Vatican said in a statement on Thursday.
The reason is very simple: the Holy See cannot contribute to an activity that clearly damages the health of people,” it said, adding that smoking claims more than seven million lives every year, according to the World Health Organization. “Although the cigarettes sold to employees and pensioners in the Vatican at a reduced price are a source of revenue for the Holy See, no profit can be legitimate if it puts lives at risk,” it added. Francis, who has only one lung, does not smoke. He has let the locals keep their other guilty pleasure, tax-free alcohol. The cigarettes and booze are sold in a luxury duty-free shop, opened in 2003 in what was once the Vatican’s magnificent railway station but is now home to everything from designer handbags and shoes to flat-screen televisions. Only those with a pass — Vatican employees or pensioners — can shop there, and many pick up goods, food and even fuel inside the city for Italian friends on the other side of the tiny state’s imposing walls.