Pope Francis is taking a stance for life in a move that’s similar to what Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy did decades ago.
The Pope has decided to ban the sale of cigarettes in the Vatican’s duty free shop, even though the decision will lead to a big financial loss.
His move to push employees toward healthy living will cost the Vatican $11 million a year in sales, according to Vatican spokesman Greg Burke. “The Holy See cannot contribute to an activity that clearly damages the health of people,” he says.
The Pontiff, who is a non-smoker, will soon put an end to puffing at the Vatican. The ban goes into effect in 2018, stopping thousands of Vatican employees from purchasing their smokes at a 22 percent discount since a pack can sell for as high as $6.00 in other places in Rome.
With this move to stub out cigarettes the Vatican says “no profit can be legitimate if it puts lives at risk.”
In Italy, some say smoking is nearly a public health crisis with 13 million daily smokers and close to 100,000 tobacco-related deaths each year, according to a report by the Tobacco Atlas.
The World Health Organization says the global numbers are even more daunting. With one billion regular smokers, cigarettes are the cause of seven million deaths every year.
The Pope, like Christian businessman Truett Cathy, decided to turn towards a nobler route, putting the lives of people ahead of profit.
In his memoirs, Eat More Chikin…Inspire More People, Cathy recounts the early days of his restaurant business where he received a sizable profit from cigarette sales until he noticed a teenage employee’s disturbing smoking habit.
Cathy wrestled with the decision to give up this lucrative stream of income from the cigarette company which he says was the most profitable square footage in his often struggling diner, but soon he got “the guts to get rid of it.”
Cathy eventually earned incredible success with his business as his decisions to stand for his principles, like choosing not to open his restaurants on the Sabbath, drew more customers to his principled approach.
Annual tobacco reports from the Centers for Disease Control supports the link between tobacco use and sickness, stating “smoking-related illness in the United States costs more than $300 billion each year.”
Cigarettes are still a booming business in the U.S. despite years of public service announcements, heavy taxes and bans in restaurants and public buildings.
The CDC reports, “In 2014, tobacco companies spent more than $9 billion marketing cigarettes and smokeless tobacco” in the U.S. alone. That breaks down to “nearly $25 million each day, or about $1 million every hour.” The relentless marketing campaigns may be working with an uptick of e-cigarettes accounting for more than a 300 percent jump in sales in recent years.