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Rise in the illicit trade of cigarettes during lockdown ban

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By Mumtaz Moosa Saley

As we enter 50 days since the start of lockdown many cigarettes smokers have become innovative in finding their nicotine fix.

Most store owners will tell you how they’re asked “make a plan, while some foreign store owners have put up posters stating that there is no plan to be made, so stop asking.

Within my own community, there have been a number of arrests of both store owners and customers who have broken the law. And the penalties are heavy! Many have acquired a criminal record and/or fined close to R50 000 and who are caught buying were processed and locked up with a possible criminal record and a R 5000- R10 000 fine.

Is it really worth it?

Sadly many people have filled in surveys conducted which shockingly revealed that people are willing to go hungry and use whatever money they have to source a quick fix. With one person resorting to paying R 3500 for a carton of a well-known brand while others are paying close to R150 a box.

While the World Health Organisation has mentioned that those who smoke are at higher risk of contracting a more severe case of COVID-19, there are many who are have resorted to court action against the government to lift the ban.

Ironically, cigarettes have been proven to be injurious to one’s health and can be said to be addictive as can be seen from the lengths people will go to obtain them.

Quitting is not as easy, one can either go cold turkey or follow a regulated process to kick the habit. Nothing is impossible, and we should encourage those who do smoke to the dangers cigarettes pose to one’s health and to others.


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