Will the tobacco ban be rolled into SA’s level 3 lockdown regulations?

The sale of tobacco products has been prohibited under the lockdown regulations. Stock photo. Image: 123RF/Evgeny Dorganev

Will the ban on tobacco be extended even further, into level three of the lockdown regulations?

Free Market Foundation CEO Leon Louw believes the ban may continue.

“Smokers should be prepared to pay R20 for a single cigarette or R200 a box for many months to come. The pandemic will be with us in some form until next year, so don’t expect tobacco sales to be unbanned before 2021,” he said in a statement on Friday.

The foundation, which is a non-profit, public benefit organisation, said there were “indications” the ban on the sale of tobacco products could be extended beyond level four  of the national lockdown and, possibly, even into level one.

If this happened, smokers would continue to pay extortionate prices on the black market.

Political party leaders who were part of a virtual meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday told TimesLIVE he was under “great pressure” from business and organised labour to open up the economy.

However, co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was “adamant about [the] cigarette ban, explaining the relationship between smoking and Covid-19” when she spoke during the briefing on what level three would entail.

The minister also said shebeens, taverns, gyms and other areas where people congregated in large numbers would remain closed.

Louw said: “As usual with all rushed and ill-conceived regulations, the law of unintended consequences is at play. As at the end of April, Treasury has lost in excess R300m in excise duty from tobacco products, and the illicit trade has been handed the market on a plate and is charging extortionate prices. People have not stopped smoking. Government has turned 11-million smokers into criminals overnight”.

“Where is the evidence that tobacco products increase the spread of Covid-19, or why tobacco products are singled out when other goods are shared, such as food and drinks, or communal toilets? Why aren’t they banning sugar since studies of Chinese Covid-19 patients shows the death rate was three times higher in patients with diabetes?” asked Louw.

Dlamini-Zuma’s spokesperson declined to comment on the minister’s recommendations around tobacco and alcohol to the coronavirus national command council.

By TimesLIVE and Iavan Pijoos


  1. I think it is great. The tax burden on smokers is now relieved … tax lost on cigarettes and tobacco sales is now going to be spread over every tax payer in the country to cover up for the loss instead of just the poor smokers!

  2. Funny how Dlamini-Zuma, wife of Jacob Zuma, is pushing for cigarettes to still be banned but it seems that her son’s company, Amalgamated Tabacco Mnf, seems to be the only cigarettes “illegally” available at the moment in abundance. Where is this surplus of cigarettes from his company coming from because obviously someone is still supplying it. So is this ban a conspiracy to push through her sons products… Hmmmm… Transportation of alcohol and cigarettes have been banned, causing companies like SAB to destroy so much of their stock, but his companies cigarettes seem to be free to transport and distribute. How is this possible? Obviously, agendas need to be investigated and corruption seem rife.

  3. Dlamini Zuma is ridiculous and should be removed from political scene. Her personal agenda against smoking is not working. People are bled dry buying rubish at exhorting price but no one will stop smoking because she says so. How many smokers have died of coronavirus?!!!

  4. NCCC ban of cigarettes provides more space for illicit trade and whose traders make a lot of many which could be used for building our own economy. How do they protect the smokers against cd 19 by ban the legal trade of cigarettes. ANC likes to be on the wrong side of any case that’s why they protect their own interests.

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