Cigarette sales are due to be banned in the Vatican City State from next year, according to a story by Gaia Pianigiani for the New York Times quoting a Vatican spokesman.
Cigarettes are sold through duty-free shops reserved for employees and citizens of the Vatican City.
According to a 2015 book based on leaked Vatican documents, cardinals are entitled to a discount on up to 200 packs a month. The Vatican said employees could purchase a maximum of 50 packs a month.
Selling discounted tobacco to employees and pensioners without the increasingly stringent taxes imposed in surrounding Italy, has long been a source of revenue for the Vatican City State. And many people in Rome have bought cigarettes through acquaintances at the Vatican.
But it is all coming to an end. “The Holy See cannot contribute to an activity that clearly damages the health of people,” the spokesman, Greg Burke, said in a statement, citing World Health Organization figures that smoking causes seven million deaths a year.
The sales had been profitable for the Vatican, he said, but “no profit can be legitimate if it puts lives at risk”.