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Vatican marks No Tobacco Day

Pope with World No Tobacco Day seminar banner.

Pope with World No Tobacco Day seminar banner.

Source: Vatican News/WHO

The Vatican marked World No Tobacco Day, on 31 May with an international seminar held at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. Entitled: The Catholic Church towards the problem of smoking harm reduction' the event was promoted by an Italian Association for healthcare under the patronage of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

In his message to the seminar Pope Francis said: "The culture of life is a heritage that Christians must share with everyone. Every human life, unique and unrepeatable, has an inestimable value … I hope that this reflection on this concrete problem can help many people to become aware of the fact that physical health is a gift from God that the Lord has given us and which we must take care of responsibly."

In his address, Cardinal Michael Czerny, Prefect of the Dicastery, stressed that "tobacco, like drugs and alcohol, constitutes a challenge for all those interested in the defence of life and the promotion of human dignity and integral human development". Quoting Genesis, the Prefect then recalled that "Created in the image and likeness of God, human beings have a dignified nature which they must respect and which they cannot manipulate at will, nor expose to health risks through addictive behaviour".

There was an address from the Ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta in Antigua and Barbuda, HE Przemysław Häuser-Schöneich, followed by speeches from doctors, scientists and scholars, among them: Bishop Ariel Mosconi, from Argentina; Bishop Grzegorz Ryś, Archbishop of Lodz, Poland; Prof Alejandro Videla, from the Austral University Hospital in Buenos Aires; Mgr Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, Prof Szczepan Cofta of the Clinical Hospital of Poznan University of Medical Science; Prof Robert Nęcek, of the Pontifical University of John Paul II in Krakow; Dr Lucia Ercoli, of the Institute of Solidarity Medicine; and Dr Bartosz Arłukowicz, who heads the Beating Cancer Commission at the European Parliament.

Among other guests and speakers were senior diplomats from the USA, Nigeria, Poland and Mexico accredited to the Holy See, the Ambassador of Lesotho accredited to the Italian Republic HE Chief Thesele 'Maseribane and Irish interfaith campaigner Anthony Bailey OBE.

Pope Francis ordered a ban on the sale of cigarettes inside the Vatican from the beginning of 2018 because of health concerns. Former Holy See Press Office Director, Greg Burke explained: "The motive is very simple: the Holy See cannot be cooperating with a practice that is clearly harming the health of people."


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