Dlamini-Zuma defends five month ban on sale of cigarettes
Under the new lockdown regulations that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced on Monday, the sale of alcohol and cigarettes are allowed as most of the economy has been reopened and people are permitted to travel between provinces and visit friends and family again.
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has defended the five month ban on the sale of tobacco products.
The ban was lifted at midnight when Alert Level 2 lockdown came into effect.
Under the new lockdown regulations that Dlamini-Zuma announced on Monday, the sale of alcohol and cigarettes is allowed as most of the economy has been reopened and people are permitted to travel between provinces and visit friends and family again.
Briefing the media, Dlamini-Zuma maintained that the tobacco ban was based on scientific evidence.
“Evidence that was coming from other countries that the smokers would tend to have a more serious disease which means we would need more ICU beds and maybe need ventilators – that’s one set of issues but on the other hand when you stop smoking, the results of stopping to smoke do show pretty quickly. So your respiratory tract does improve quickly and just your general well-being does improve so that is why it was prohibited temporarily,” says Dlamini-Zuma.
She has warned that completely lifting the ban on the sale of alcohol would hamper the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The ban has been lifted conditionally under alert Level 3 of the lockdown regulations. Alcohol sales were prohibited to ease pressure on hospitals and to allow doctors in emergency wards to focus on those infected with the coronavirus than road crashes and other alcohol-related injuries.
Dlamini-Zuma says the sale of alcohol should be dealt with tactfully because of its impact on the government’s effort to control the spread of the virus.
“Trauma units were empty when alcohol was not allowed, and we also saw when it was allowed how it went up, so to then just open completely, stands a risk of the surge coming back and overwhelming the health service, that’s why it was agreed that we start slowly,” Dlamini-Zuma.
The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) says it’s relieved that tobacco products including cigarettes will again go on sale from Tuesday.
The tobacco association says even though the ban has been lifted, the industry has suffered huge losses in revenue and jobs.
Fita Chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni says they hope their suppliers will be able to meet the high demand for cigarettes after five months of not selling them.
Mnguni says, “Look it’s going to be a challenge, the announcement by the President only came on Saturday evening, so logistically to prepare for something of this nature is going to require massive effort. I think our members will do their utmost best to ensure that all their suppliers are adequately supplied, but again it is going to be a challenge with the late timing of the President’s announcement prior to us going ahead back into the market.”
Alcohol sales will also be permitted under level two of the lockdown but under certain conditions.