A welcome back kiss for cigarettes as stock runs low at some stores

18 August 2020 - 10:19 By Naledi Shange
Life returned to normal for smokers and drinkers on Tuesday. File image
Life returned to normal for smokers and drinkers on Tuesday. File image
Image: 123RF/Stefano Carnevali

Theresa Thompson* was so excited to purchase her first legal packet of cigarettes after many months that she kissed the box.

Making her way out of a Tops establishment in Roodepoort, Gauteng, on Tuesday morning, she said she had “lost too much money” buying illegal cigarettes.

“I felt so sorry for pensioners and people who were not working because  illicit cigarettes were so expensive,” she said.

Sheldon Fortoen gave an idea of how much it cost him to buy illegal cigarettes over the past few months.

“It was hectic. A  box for which we usually paid R20 we were getting for R100,” he said.

A box would last him a day. In a bid to save money, he would try to buy cartons. While his brand usually sold for R180 a carton, he was paying R500 to R700 under lockdown.

He didn't try quitting.

Hoping for a cut-price sale

Thompson said she was in no rush to stock up on cigarettes. She told TimesLIVE she would be returning to her illicit cigarette dealer to buy his last cartons.

“With legal cigarettes now back on sale, he will be forced to slightly lower his prices to get rid of his stock so I will save a bit,” she said.

Limited stock in store

Cigarette supplies were running low at Liquor City in Florida, Roodepoort. The manager was, however, optimistic they would last for the rest of the day.

Jonathan Cillier said: “We are low on cigarettes because we haven't been ordering. We only had two days to prepare [since President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement on Saturday night], but on alcohol we are all good.”

Cigarette sales have been banned since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown on  March 27.

At the Spar in Bergbron, people had taken advantage of the fact that the grocery store opened slightly earlier than the Tops liquor outlet next to it. Smokers were buying cigarettes at the supermarket before alcohol and cigarette sales opened next door. A Spar staffer told TimesLIVE they were running low on cigarette supplies.

* Not her real name

TimesLIVE

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