Holy Smokes! Vatican bans sale of cigarettes

Above, St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The Vatican, a tiny walled city-state surrounded by Rome, is one of the few states to ban smoking. (Reuters)
Updated 09 November 2017
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Holy Smokes! Vatican bans sale of cigarettes

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis has ordered a ban on the sale of cigarettes inside the Vatican from next year because of health concerns, a spokesman said on Thursday.
“The motive is very simple: the Holy See cannot be cooperating with a practice that is clearly harming the health of people,” spokesman Greg Burke said in a statement.
He cited World World Health Organization (WHO) statistics that smoking causes more than seven million deaths worldwide every year.
Cigarettes have been sold at a discounted price to Vatican employees and pensioners.
Vatican employees are allowed to buy five cartons of cigarettes a month. Many Italians ask their non-smoking friends who work in the Vatican to buy cigarettes for them because they cost much less than in Italy, where they are subject to heavy taxes.
Burke acknowledged that the sale of cigarettes has been a source of revenue for the Holy See, adding, “However, no profit can be legitimate if it is costing people their lives.”
The spokesman said the sale of large cigars would continue at least for the time being because the smoke is not inhaled.
The Vatican, a tiny walled city-state surrounded by Rome, is one of the few states to ban smoking. Bhutan, where smoking is deemed bad for one’s karma, banned the sale of tobacco in 2005.


Pregnant Meghan takes break from Australia royal tour

Updated 21 October 2018
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Pregnant Meghan takes break from Australia royal tour

  • The trip officially ends in New Zealand on October 31

SYDNEY: Meghan, the pregnant wife of Britain’s Prince Harry, is scaling back her engagements during the royal couple’s 16-day Pacific tour, Kensington Palace said Sunday, ahead of their visit to Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.
The royal couple have had a gruelling schedule since arriving in Australia on Monday, visiting Sydney, Melbourne and the regional town of Dubbo, as well as opening the Olympic-style Invictus Games for disabled and wounded soldiers.
“After a busy program, The Duke and Duchess have decided to cut back The Duchess’s schedule slightly for the next couple of days, ahead of the final week and a half of the tour,” Kensington Palace said in a statement.
The opening ceremony for the Games at Sydney’s Opera House on Saturday night was delayed after an intense thunderstorm, and the Duchess of Sussex did not attend a cycling medal presentation with Harry on Sunday.
At the event, held in The Domain gardens, the prince was asked by someone in a crowd of onlookers where his wife was.
“She’s resting at home,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported him as saying. “Being pregnant takes its toll.”
Meghan rejoined her husband for lunch with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, before watching a Games sailing event from a boat on Sydney Harbor.
They are due to attend a private reception for the Invictus Games Foundation at Government House late Sunday before heading off to Fraser Island in Queensland state.
But Meghan is not expected to take part in official engagements at the World Heritage-listed site on Monday, with Kensington Palace adding that “The Duke will continue with the engagements on Fraser Island as planned.”
The pair are due to visit Fiji and Tonga after Fraser Island.
The news came as Harry received an unusual request from some members of the Australian cycling team at Sunday’s presentation — if he could sign an Invictus pair of budgie smugglers.
“Budgie smugglers” is the colloquial term Australians use for Speedo-style swimwear.
The Duke of Sussex declined the offer.
“He told us he’d love to sign them but he wasn’t allowed to,” athlete Damien Irish told the ABC Sunday.
The trip officially ends in New Zealand on October 31.