An online survey by the University of Cape Town’s School of Economics shows that the ban on the sale of cigarettes has not been effective in preventing South Africans from smoking during the lockdown.

Results of the study show that about ninety percent of smokers have been able to purchase cigarettes during this period, through the illicit market.

UCT’s Professor Corné van Walbeek says the survey includes feedback from more than 16 000 participants.
He says some people also stocked up before the lockdown.

Van Walbeek says: “One thing we picked up from the survey is that many people stocked up before the time, thinking that the ban on cigarette sales will last for three weeks.”

“It was then a surprise to everybody that in level four the restrictions continued as well.’

He says even though the ban on cigarettes was very well intentioned and had potential positives to public health consequences, the economic consequences are greatly outweighing the potential public health consequences.”

There is still uncertainty as to when the ban on alcohol and tobacco sales will be lifted.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that cigarette sales would be allowed under Level 4 of the lockdown.

However, that was not to be as the government made a u-turn on the decision just a few days later, citing health concerns.

The extension of the ban caused a public uproar, with thousands of smokers lashing out at government.

Registered counsellor, Banetsi Mphunga, says the ban poses severe health risks for those who have been regularly consuming alcohol and tobacco products.

Mphunga says that people who have suddenly had to stop their habits are now at a high risk of depression.

“Some people are currently experiencing anxiety relating to not having consumed the substance and their chances of being diagnosed with full depression are heightened. Now, if the things they use to suppress their emotions are not being sold, they are exposing them to this predisposition of psychiatric issues and physical issues as well.”

The video below is reporting on the ban of cigarette sale