The Holy See will soon be smoke free.
In a move that will cost the city state about $11 million annually in lost profits, Pope Francis has decided to ban the sale of cigarettes in the Vatican. In a statement, the holy father said that the micronation he runs “cannot contribute to an activity that clearly damages the health of people.”
But the move also helps to clear up a teensy smidgen of the corruption that has plagued the Vatican for years on end: it will prevent people with coveted Vatican commercial cards from abusing their access to duty free tobacco products. Per the New York Post, with Italy’s VAT sales tax at a whopping 22 percent, people who can shop in the Vatican do so. An Ernst & Young report cited in the 2015 book Avarice, based on leaked Vatican documents, cites 41,000 cards being issued, even though there are only a few thousand Vatican employees, retirees, residents, accredited diplomats, and members of religious congregations who actually qualify for the card.
The card rules stipulate that users can only buy 80 cartons of cigarettes annually, but an audit in the book found that 278 people exceeded the limit in 2015.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the cardinals and other people who live and work in Vatican City can’t smoke—it just means that it’s going to get a lot more expensive for them to do it.