Tobacco ban 'luring kids to dagga and cocaine because they are cheaper than cigarettes'

26 May 2020 - 12:42 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Soweto Business Access has asked the government to lift the ban on tobacco products, claiming it is doing more harm than good.
Soweto Business Access has asked the government to lift the ban on tobacco products, claiming it is doing more harm than good.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Soweto Business Access (SBA) plans to challenge the government's decision to prohibit the sale of tobacco products during the lockdown, claiming the ban is doing more harm than good.

SBA chairperson Mphuthi Mphuthi confirmed to TimesLIVE that the submission would be based on evidence it had collected.

“We have drafted the submission and are sharing it with our stakeholders so we submit it with evidence and input from various players,' said Mphuthi.

He said the inflated prices of illicit cigarettes had seen people not following social distancing recommendations, and more smokers in townships sharing cigarettes.

This comes after Mphuthi alleged, in an interview with Newzroom Afrika, that drug dealers were “luring our kids into smoking dagga and crack cocaine simply because they are a lot cheaper than cigarettes”. 

“We are calling on our government to give other people in the community an opportunity to voice their opinions about this. From what we understand, it was only 2,000 people who spoke to [co-operative government and traditional affairs] minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and asked for cigarettes to be banned,” Mphuthi said.

Last month Dlamini-Zuma claimed 2,000 people had written in to advise that they were against the sale of cigarettes under level 4 of the lockdown.

Dlamini-Zuma said the ban was based on several reasons, including health concerns.

According to a University of Cape Town report entitled Lighting up the illicit market, the cigarette ban had failed and should be lifted as soon as possible.

It claimed, among other things, that the ban had undone the progress the revenue service Sars had made in stamping out illegal cigarettes and had given illicit traders a foothold “where they previously could not compete on a quality basis”.

The report also said the ban made street vendors a key source of cigarettes for 26% of smokers, and created a thriving black market that revolved around friends and family, WhatsApp groups and “essential worker” acquaintances.


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