Smoke from the Vatican? Not any more as Pope Francis bans cigarettes

Pope Francis is ending the sale of cigarettes in the Vatican, saying the Holy See can not condone something so harmful to people's health.

Duty free tobacco is available inside the Vatican at a discount for employees and residents as they duck Italy's stringent taxes. Although the arrangement is a longstanding means for Vatican City to raise funds, the practice will end next year.

A seagull flies over the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, where black smoke billowing from,l during the second day of the Vatican conclave, Tuesday, April 19, 2005. Black smoke indicates that cardinals sequestered inside the Sistine chapel had not yet chosen a new pope.

Spokesman Greg Burke said 'people enjoyed it as sort of a fringe benefit'.

The sales are estimated to bring in millions of euros each year for the Vatican and Burke said: 'It comes as a bit of a sacrifice for the Holy See, this was a source of revenue, but it's obviously much more important to do what is right.'

He cited World Health Organization figures that blame smoking for more than seven million deaths worldwide every year.

Burke said no amount of profit could be legitimate if it was costing people their lives.

'The motive is very simple: the Holy See cannot be cooperating with a practice that is clearly harming the people.'

Vatican employees are often asked by friends and relatives to buy them cigarettes from inside the City because of the heavy taxation Italy imposes on tobacco.

Pope Francis himself does not smoke after having a lung removed as a teenager.