Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says there are short and long-term benefits for people who stop smoking. She cautiously responded to questions on tobacco due to the pending legal challenge against the ban on the sale of cigarettes.

She told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) that health experts and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have warned that smokers who contract the virus could face serious problems.

Dlamini-Zuma quoted the WHO on some of the benefits of giving up smoking.

“And the short-term benefits, I will just read some to you … it says: If you stop smoking, in 12 hours the carbon monoxide in your blood drops to normal. Two weeks after, your circulation improves and your lung function increases. One month to nine months, coughing and shortness of breath will decrease. And it goes on … I won’t waste your time.”

Meanwhile, the ANC has urged South Africans to support the decisions of the Cabinet and the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).

The party’s appeal follows recent criticism on Dlamini-Zuma, on an alleged proposed extension of a ban on the sale of cigarettes, tobacco-related products and alcohol.

“ANC notes with dismay the continuing attacks on Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for diligently carrying out her duties as the Minister responsible for the coordination of our country’s national mitigation efforts, in terms of the Disaster Management Act of 2020. It is entirely unacceptable that there are evidently wedge drivers, who are in the service of certain businesses. They maliciously attack and undermine our leaders,” said the party in a statement issued on Sunday.

The governing party has also moved to remind South Africans that Cabinet and NCCC decisions are not taken by individuals.