Pope Francis has banned the sale of cheap cigarettes to employees and former employees resident in the Vatican City on health grounds.
The ban which is expected to take full effect in 2018 is to ensure that the cigarettes, which are about 50 cents (45p) cheaper per packet in the Vatican compared to Italy due to lack of sales tax are not sold to employees, retirees, residents, diplomats and some members of religious congregations in the Vatican.
A spokesman for the Pope, Greg Burke said although cigarette sales had been a major source of income to the Vatican, the Pontiff had recognised the harm that tobacco does and hence the decision to do what is right and protect lives.
“There has been more and more recognition of the harm that tobacco does, and the Pope of course is aware of this as well, and even though it’s been a source of revenue for Vatican, it’s more important to do the right thing and protect people’s lives,” Burke said.
Although Burke did not disclose how much the Vatican was making from cigarette sales, it is estimated to be raking in as much as €10million (£ 8.8million) annually.
He however assured that it would be possible for the Vatican to recover the money that would be lost following the ban from other revenue streams like the Post Office and the City’s museums.