Holy Smokes: Vatican bans sale of cigarettes

Pope Francis stubs out traditional source of revenue for city state but cigars can still be sold

Pope Francis has ordered a ban on the sale of cigarettes inside the Vatican from next year because of health concerns, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Cigarettes have traditionally been sold at a discounted price to Vatican employees and pensioners.

"The motive is very simple: the Holy See cannot be cooperating with a practice that is clearly harming the health of people," spokesman Greg Burke said in a statement.

He cited World World Health Organization (WHO) statistics that smoking causes more than seven million deaths worldwide every year.


Vatican employees are allowed to buy five cartons of cigarettes a month. Many Italians ask their non-smoking friends who work in the Vatican to buy cigarettes for them because they cost much less than in Italy, where they are subject to heavy taxes.

Mr Burke acknowledged the sale of cigarettes had been a source of revenue for the Holy See, adding, “However, no profit can be legitimate if it is costing people their lives”.

The spokesman said the sale of large cigars would continue at least for the time being because the smoke is not inhaled.

The Vatican, the tiny walled city state surrounded by Rome, is one of the few states to ban smoking.

Bhutan, where smoking is deemed bad for one's karma, banned the sale of tobacco in 2005.