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Bad habits go up in smoke under lockdown

She smoked for more than half her life, and while she often considered quitting, a Nelson Mandela Bay woman could never quite muster the willpower to stomp out the bad habit.

However, today she has been left with little choice as the ban on cigarette sales presses on and the price on the illicit market continues to soar.

Perhaps it was the only positive thing to have emerged from the coronavirus pandemic, but not only has quitting been an added health benefit, it has also saved many households hundreds to thousands of rand each month.However, today she has been left with little choice as the ban on cigarette sales presses on and the price on the illicit market continues to soar.

For another Walmer resident who had smoked a box a day for the better part of five years, with his salary cut due to the downfall in the economy, he simply could not afford to buy cigarettes on the black market any longer.

He said he was now saving close to R1,000 a month — and the longer the ban continued, the less likely he was to relapse.

While many had turned to vaping to try to curb the craving, some had quit puffing altogether.

Patrick Gcwabe, of Motherwell, said vaping was not an option for him because it was not something he would be able to afford in the long term.

To buy the equipment alone was a costly exercise.

While he had rolled his own cigarettes for the better part of a decade, he said that two months after he made the decision to quit he was already feeling healthier.

“I am not going to lie, it was not easy,” he said, adding that he had been extremely grouchy the first few weeks.

“But now I wake up in the morning feeling fresher and I don’t find myself becoming so out of breath,” the 55-year-old gardener said.

His wife, Rose, used to enjoy the odd puff along with her husband but with the temptation no longer there, she said she enjoyed having a smoke-free household.

A Uitenhage woman, 56, who is a grandmother, said while quitting had always been something she aspired to, she had been forced to do so under difficult circumstances — and without her family being present to support her.

“It wasn’t the best time to do it because we are all under a lot of stress right now, but we all knew from the start of this pandemic that smokers are at a far bigger risk when contracting coronavirus than non-smokers.”

The woman, who did not want to be named, said smoking nowadays was regarded a luxury.

“A doctor told me once that if your mind isn’t ready to quit, then it will be particularly difficult to do so. I think that is why this has been so hard on me,” she said.

A Walmer father, 45, who also declined to be named, said when the extension of the lockdown was announced, he began spending double the amount he had when buying his regular brand of cigarettes.

“With my salary having been reduced, I just could not afford it any more and as things started to get worse, with a shortage of ventilators, I knew that I needed to quit, not only for my sake but for the sake of my family as well.”

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