Holy Smoke! Pope Francis Bans Sale of Cigarettes in Vatican

Pope Francis has issued his personal version of “Thank you for not smoking,” announcing a ban on the sale of cigarettes in the Vatican to go into effect in 2018.

In an official statement Thursday, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said: “The Holy Father has decided that the Vatican will cease to cell cigarettes to employees as of 2018.”

“The reason is very simple,” the statement reads. “The Holy See cannot contribute to an activity that clearly damages the health of people. According to the World Health Organization, every year smoking is the cause of more than seven million deaths throughout the world.”

According to the Journal’s Vatican correspondent, Francis X. Rocca, tax-free cigarettes have been a perk for Vatican employees and retirees, and “their sale has been a significant source of income for the Holy See,” with an annual figure perhaps in the millions of euro. Nonetheless, “no profit can be legitimate if it puts lives at risk,” the Vatican statement added.

While cigarettes will no longer be available in the Vatican, employees can still benefit from “tax-free gasoline, groceries and the wares at a department store in a converted train station inside Vatican City,” Rocca tweeted.

While the Catechism of the Catholic Church forbids “the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine” according to the virtue of temperance, it does not prohibit their use.

Historically, the Catholic Church enjoyed a monopoly on the sale of tobacco in the Papal States and in 1863, Pope Pius IX “consolidated tobacco processing operations under the Pontifical Director of Salt and Tobacco in a newly erected building on the Piazza Mastai in the Trastevere district in Rome.”

Francis himself does not smoke and in fact has only one lung, having had one of his organs removed as a teenager, presumably after a particularly serious infection.

Of his recent predecessors, Popes Pius X and Pius XI smoked cigars, while Saint John XXIII smoked cigarettes. Though unconfirmed, Pope Benedict XVI was rumored to smoke Marlboro cigarettes, but never in public.

In 2002, John Paul II reportedly signed a law making it forbidden “to smoke in closed public places, places frequented by the public, and workplaces, situated in the territories of The Vatican, the areas beyond the borders of this State [that is, Vatican offices in other countries], and in public transportation means.”

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