Unholy smoke: Vatican to stop selling cigarettes in its shops
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is saying “Just Say No” to cigarettes.
The Vatican announced Thursday that it would no longer sell cigarettes to employees in its duty free shop and supermarket — giving up an estimated $11 million a year in revenue.
Francis made the decision because “the Holy See cannot contribute to an activity that clearly damages the health of people,” the Vatican said. A statement cited the World Health Organization, which says smoking causes more than 7 million deaths annually around the globe.
A 2015 book based on leaked Vatican documents, “Avarice,” reported that the booming tobacco sales were an example of how the Vatican’s tax-free commercial activities were being abused.
With Italy’s VAT sales tax at 22 percent, anyone who can get their hands on a coveted Vatican “commercial card” does so since it gives them access to a world of high-end, tax-free shopping. With it, lucky cardholders can buy their weekly groceries at the Vatican supermarket, fill their tank at the Vatican gas station, get a prescription filled at the Vatican pharmacy, and do their Christmas shopping at the Vatican’s department store — all duty-free.