Opinion: The extraordinary tobacco ban

What is the logic in the continual ban on the sale of tobacco products and how does that assist in preventing the spread of Covid-19?

According to Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, and the apparent loudest voice in the controversial Covid-19 Command Council, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, smokers “share a zol…” Is this the reason; that tobacco products can’t be sold because some smokers “share a zol”? Are they less likely to do that because there are fewer cigarettes? Must the citizens of South Africa be treated like children? When did South Africa become a nanny state?

We have known for a long time that Dlamini-Zuma is a very good friend of Carnilinx Tobacco Company boss, Adriano Mazzotti, who’s company apologised for defrauding the South African Revenue Services back in 2014. In Jacques Pauw’s investigation into the Zuma administration in his book, The President’s Keepers, it was revealed that Mazzotti was a contributor to the then ANC presidential hopeful Dlamini-Zuma. He also allegedly made “secret payments to other members of the Zuma family, including the president and his son Edward.”

While no court of law has ever confirmed this connection, it is true that Mazzotti and Zuma have travelled to many of the same national and international events and have been photographed together on many occasions.

As South Africa moves to Level 3 of the national lockdown from June 1, the ban on alcohol sales will be lifted, although still restricted, yet the complete ban on tobacco products remains in place. When first announced that tobacco sales would be banned when the national lockdown was first put in place (Level 5 from March 27), even non-smokers questioned the logic of the ban. An entire legally-constituted industry was effectively closed down and illicit cigarette manufacturers rushed to take up the slack. Since then the government has foregone billions of rand in lost revenue due to the ban on both legal tobacco and alcohol sales.

However, as from June 4 alcohol will once again be available for restricted sales, but the ban on tobacco sales remains. The banning of legitimate tobacco sales has lost perhaps several billion rand to the government that could have been used to purchase much needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) or funding more testing or even funded research into a Covid-19 vaccine. Instead the illicit tobacco sellers have made triple this amount (tax accounts for only a portion of the revenue received) and, with no end to the ban in-sight, will continue to do so at vastly inflated prices.

The question of health has also been raised, but to some withdrawal from nicotine addiction could, in fact, be more harmful than allowing smokers to continue with their addiction.

While only a very small percentage of drinkers are actually addicted to alcohol, almost every smoker is an addict. From a human rights perspective this must be regarded as cruelty, and smokers (of tobacco) do not usually commit violence because they are smoking, do not cause road accidents, do not commit acts of public violence or unruly behaviour. These things, however, are often associated with the consumption of alcohol.

The government has asked a lot of its citizens during the national lockdown, but seem totally at a loss to provide a logical reason for the tobacco ban.

As always, Talk of the Town welcomes your comments and suggestions.


  1. I just don’t know why we can’t smoke. There are lonely people out there that rely on their cigarettes. We are treated like children. We look after our safety.please allow us to smoke.

    • Mrs Dlamini Zuma has to bear in mind that we are the once who voted for the ANC and how do we trust her if she only thinks for herself

  2. I don’t think that the Cigarette Ban has anything to do with money – It is all about POWER – as long as the lockdown continues Dlamini-Zuma is in charge – Under the Disaster Management Act even Cyril reports to her = she is flexing her muscles and showing Cyril who is in control – She is the only person who has the power to determine how long each Lockdown Level continues and when the Lockdown and the “Disaster” ends! She is running the Country and will continue to do so until she decides that it is over.
    The Zuma faction will do anything to stop the prosecutions of Jacob Zuma and his cronies in the State Capture – they cannot afford for the Nation to find out who else is involved. So Dlamini-Zuma needs to keep the lockdown going for as long as possible to give the Zuma faction time to consolidate their Power.
    The only way to stop this is to have the Disaster Management Act declared unconstitutional and unlawful and to return the power to our President.
    Cyril looked totally defeated and subdued during his recent address to the nation – he has realised that he is just a figurehead with absolutely no power. Dlamini-Zuma is also ensuring that the Zuma legacy continues – be scared folks – be very scared!

  3. I have gone out as little as possible during lockdown. I use my hand sanitiser continually when I do. I stocked up with smokes day before lockdown and bought my usual two monthly 6 pack of beer. I was set. I live alone with 3 dogs. Then they extended the lockdown. I still had my stock. Then they reversed our ability to buy smokes on level 4. I now have to go out to obtain cigarettes at extortionate prices. They are available freely at high prices. No one has stopped smoking. So this whole ban has failed miserably and 11 million people detest one minister in govt.

  4. We have been kept on a string since day 1 if lockdown. I don’t drink and smoke 6 lug it cigarettes per day. Outside in my garden because of my 2 doggies. What is even more ofa worry is the continued pencilling in at the levels to date. Create hope just to detroy it……

  5. Leo

    It is all about the freedom of choice.The government is taking away the right of a person to choose to smoke or not.Sugar drinks, fast food leads to diabetes and high blood pressure.The government allows the selling of these non- essential foods.This means the government is just as guilty in allowing these said foods that can kill you.The choice must be with the consumer.

  6. Yet again the government bows to another thieving ZUMA!!! When will this end? Suddenly alcohol ban relaxed for crime, violence and road carnage to resume but tobacco must be ignored. Can these apparently knowledgeable people in government go read the French research being conducted currently on nicotine easing COVID symptoms to the body.
    We smokers might just be safe in the end… GO FIGURE

  7. I see no logic in banning cigarettes, but then again who is logical? more and more people are zolling now, and buying illegal cigarettes, is south africa helping out other countries? Instead of their own. Maybe we should just shut down all our tobacco plants. How can they say it’s scientifically wrong when the scientists have no clue what the virus is all about.

  8. The cigarette ban is not about health issues, because smoking has been going on for generations, with all the unprevented diseases that has been with us for just as long. So now the Carona Virus arises, and all of a sudden the smoking of cigarettes is a great health risk, while no one has actually discovered all the dangers and full pattern of the Carona Virus, which scientists are still trying to find the answers. It is clear, that the ban is more about dictation, power, and rule, creating major physical, psychological, and financial damage to millions of smokers. It has become a war between non-smokers and smokers, trying to eliminate the smokers rightful given choice to smoke.

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