Stop smoking in the time of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

If ever there was a time to quit smoking – that time is now, says Savera Kalideen of the National Council against Smoking (NCAS). “With the threat of the coronavirus pandemic looming large, now is the time to take care of your own lungs by not smoking cigarettes, shisha, vaping or using e-cigarettes. Also, with more people spending increased amounts of time at home, we must make sure children and non-smokers are not exposed to harmful secondhand smoke that could make them more susceptible to respiratory illnesses.” While the novel coronavirus pandemic is evolving too rapidly for conclusive evidence on the effect of tobacco smoking on an individual’s susceptibility to the novel coronavirus (

Smoking Associated with worse COVID - 19 Symptoms and Outcomes

Prevention is key to controlling the transmission of COVID-19; stopping smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes or vapes, as well as eliminating exposure to second-hand smoke, should be high on the list of measures to prevent COVID-19 infection. While smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke, do not cause COVID-19, they increase people’s vulnerability to infection, and may result in worse symptoms and outcomes, especially in the elderly. Studies of the progression of COVID-19 induced pneumonia among Chinese patients, indicate higher levels of illness in patients with a history of smoking. Smokers have a weakened immune system and lowered resistance to infections relative to non-smokers.

Taxes on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products are not nearly high enough

South Africans will soon pay more for “novel” tobacco and nicotine products. This follows last month’s budget speech in which the finance minister announced that: “In line with department of health policy, we will start taxing heated tobacco products (HTPs), for example, hubbly-bubbly. The rate will be set at 75% of the rate of cigarettes. Electronic-cigarettes, or so-called vapes, will be taxed from 2021.” The Treasury defines HTPs as products that “produce aerosols containing addictive substances and other chemicals that are inhaled by users”. Examples include IQOS by Phillip Morris International and Glo by British American Tobacco (BAT). The Treasury has yet to come up with a definition f

Trade in illicit cigarettes on the way to being stubbed out

Research conducted by academics at the University of Cape Town indicates that the government is winning the war against illegal tobacco products and that the once rampant lawlessness in the industry may be coming to an end. The substantial rise in revenue from tobacco products is a silver lining to South Africa’s increasing fiscal debt. In the 2019/20 financial year, nominal excise tax revenue from domestic production of cigarettes and cigarette tobacco (of which at least 95% is from cigarettes) increased by 19.2% from R12.1-billion to R14.4-billion. In fact, in the 2019/20 financial year the reported revenues were 14% higher than the budgeted revenue. In recent years, the illicit trade of c