The cigarette ban is still active within South Africa, many debating if it was the right thing to do. The sales of cigarettes continue but this time they are through the black market, looking closer, it’s clear to see that the market is thriving.
Dlamini-Zuma was scrutinized on the decisions made with citizens describing the ban as draconian, she later responded to these allegations.
“That’s the story about tobacco. It’s not assumptions, it’s science. If it wasn’t a problem we would smoke here, but public smoking is not allowed. Once Covid-19 is gone, things can return to normal. The measures are not draconian, it’s the virus, “says Dlamini-Zuma.
A little over a month ago Bev Maclean started a petition on change.org to persuade the government to reconsider their regulations, Maclean expressed how citizens were only given 1 day’s notice on the ban.
“Withdrawal of nicotine has serious effects on a lot of people and is especially elevated because of the stress and fear happening in our country.” said Maclean
A month has passed since the petition went live and 524,000 have signed pledging their support and reaching out for the government to change their views on smoking.
Black market is thriving
The real question is, how are many still continuing to smoke? You only have to walk down a busy Cape Town street and you will see many citizens are still smoking. Were these citizens lucky to bulk buy before the ban, or, is the black market thriving?
3 ARRESTED FOR ILLICIT CIGARETTE TRADING & CONTRAVENTION OF NDR : ERASMIA. PTA. GP. 208 BOXES WITH A VALUE OF ZAR 4.16 MILLION SEIZED. THEN PERPS TRIED TO BRIBE THE OFFICIALS & POLICE ADDED FURTHER CHARGE OF BRIBERY OF ZAR50 000 CASH. pic.twitter.com/Rf577gCxrE— REZA (@crimeairnetwork) May 15, 2020
Just today, Crimeairnetwork published a post on Twitter displaying R4.16million worth of seized black market cigarettes. The suspects allegedly offered R50,000 to the officers as a bribe to let them continue with the crimes they are committing, the officers refused.
Over the past week alone there have been more than five “recorded” cases alone on the South African Police Service’s Newsroom website. Each arrest and seizure had large quantities of cigarettes and cash.
Supply and demand price hikes are now in effect, just a few months ago you could purchase a pack of 20 cigarettes for R40, according to EWN this price has increased by 5x if you are willing to break the law and use illegal vendors.
A shop owner in Cape Town has recently been arrested for taking his chances and trading in illicit cigarettes, times are tough and some shop owners are willing to take the risk. In this case, he felt the full force of the law.
Taking away the ability for citizens to buy cigarettes legally increases the chance of them having to purchase illicit cigarettes from black market syndicates. Nicotine is highly addictive and those wanting to smoke may not realize that they are funding illegal operations, further increasing the negative impact in South Africa.