Pope bans cigarette sales at the Vatican

| November 9, 2017 | 2 Comments

A man smokes a cigarette in front of St. Peter Square at the Vatican Nov. 9. Pope Francis has decided that the Vatican will stop selling cigarettes to its employees in 2018 because of the health risks of smoking. CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

Concerned by the damage caused by smoking, Pope Francis has banned the sale of cigarettes in Vatican City State.

Starting in 2018, the Vatican “will cease to sell cigarettes to employees,” Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, said in a Nov. 9 statement.

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

The Vatican used to be known as a safe haven for cigarette smokers. That changed dramatically in 2002, when Vatican City prohibited smoking in offices and public places.

However, cigarettes continued to be sold to current and retired personnel at the Vatican. Even after the cigarette ban goes into effect, the Vatican will continue discount sales of gasoline, groceries and other goods to employees and retirees.

Nevertheless, while cigarette sales “are a source of revenue for the Holy See, no profit can be legitimate if it puts lives at risk,” Burke said.

On a moral level, the church has never defined smoking as a sin. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the gift of physical health requires “reasonable care” of the body, and more specifically says: “The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco or medicine.”

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  • Charles C.

    Perhaps, after a period of discernment, being accompanied by a non-judgmental priest emphasizing his pastoral mission, an employee might be led to believe that his conscience tells him it is acceptable to receive commun . . ., oops, I mean cigarettes.

    With that concern for health, I suppose that every bishop and cardinal appearing before the Pope will be weighed; those that are overweight would be placed on a fast, followed by regular weighings and an exercise program.

    It just seems a heavy handed way to deal with adults. They are already forbidden to smoke indoors (since 2002). Perhaps if the Vatican simply raised the price of their cigarettes to the prevailing price in Rome a lot of the sales would disappear. Some Romans ask their friends who are Vatican employees to buy cigarettes for them as they are half price in the Vatican shop.

  • Ervin Miller

    God bless Pope Francis! I recognize that smoking is a difficult habit to break, by the same token it is a very serious health risk, not to mention the healthcare cost. Millions of Americans who smoke jeopardize their health, plus the expense that could make a significant difference to their annual budget and pension savings. We pray for those who are seriously contemplating giving up on tobacco. Jesus we trust in you!