British American Tobacco South Africa has given Co-operative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma an ultimatum to amend the regulations that prohibit the sale of tobacco products by Monday, or face legal action.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week that the sale of cigarettes would be allowed under Level 4 regulations, however, on Wednesday Dlamini-Zuma announcement that the ban will remain in place.
She said 2 000 submissions against the lifting of the ban were received.
Smokers slam government decision to extend ban on cigarettes
Smokers expressed outrage over government’s decision to uphold the ban on the sale of cigarettes during the nationwide lockdown.
The command council discussed the possible lifting of the ban on cigarettes and decided that it should not be allowed for health reasons, the Minister explained.
Currently, South Africa has an estimated 11 million smokers. While the government says the decision to extend the ban is due to health concerns, smokers are now looking for alternate ways to get their hands on cigarettes.
Smokers who spoke to SABC News, say the ban has forced them to now purchase cigarettes from the illicit trade at inflated prices.
“For a smoker, it’s like now the people are in rehab for cigarettes and alcohol. And if you get it, then you’re getting a cheap one and you’re paying like R70 or R80 for a pack. The thing is that if you got it, if the police get you, then they are taking it away.
“It’s been hard now because we are addicted to smoking so this thing is killing us and now if they keep on extending like this, the prices if you get it back doors it’s expensive, which means now it’s going to go more up which means we going to die,” a smoker explains.
Several people have been arrested in Gauteng for allegedly trading in cigarettes in the last few weeks. In one instance, 10 suspects were nabbed with R1.5 million worth of cigarettes.