Vatican beats Italy 1-0 in the tobacco endgame

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Abstract

‘The Holy See cannot be cooperating with a practice that is clearly harming the health of people'. This is the reason behind Pope Francis banning the sale of tobacco products inside the Vatican in January 2018. Just outside the Holy See, in Italy, cigarette sales produce around €13 billion of fiscal revenues every year. In Italy, proposals to increase tobacco taxation are systematically rejected and new tobacco company plants have been officially inaugurated in recent years by representatives of State. The national branch of the Red Cross also shows ambivalent attitudes towards the tobacco industry, from which it has accepted significant funding in disregard of the recommendations of the International Federation of Red Cross. Against this backdrop, it is wishful thinking to imagine that tobacco sales and consumption in Italy will be substantially reduced in the near future. To counteract this situation, more than 30 Italian scientific associations/organisations launched a Manifesto, so far ignored by public authorities, indicating a set of measures whose gradual implementation at country level may lead to a tobacco endgame within the next few decades. Authors of this article would like to express their support for Pope Francis' enlightened decision and plead with politicians worldwide to follow his example, thus acting more decisively against tobacco.

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