South Africa: smokers remain forced to break the law to feed their habit as the smoking ban appears set to stay for now. Some people, including the author’s 85-year-old mother, think it is a good idea. But, it’s hard on those family members living with a smoker suffering withdrawal or worse – spending more than a week’s wage on low-quality illegal cigarettes.
South Africa government stance on all tobacco products during COVID19
Hopes rose at the news that nicotine may assist health practitioners in their ongoing battle to defeat COVID-19. The Guardian printed an article stating French researchers investigate nicotine as a possible deterrent. But, the outlet explained that nicotine – not cigarette smoking – may play a part in recovery from COVID-19. The article, written over a month ago became widely shared amongst South African smokers who feel victimised.
As recently as mid-May, the World Health Organisation confirmed that smoking differs from wearing a nicotine patch. The SA Government continues to defend the ban citing tobacco as a threat to National Health. They feel that it adds pressure on an ailing Public Health service. But critics, even those with political influence flip-flop on the ban:
Cigarette surveys indicate initially people didn’t buy illegal smokes
A survey done by the Human Sciences Research Council during level 5 lockdown stated that 88 per cent of smokers were not able to buy cigarettes. However, during level 5 lockdown, smokers still had a personal stock of cigarettes. Nobody ever dreamed the smoking ban would continue this long. Smokers didn’t stop smoking – instead, they sourced illegal cigarettes. And, according to a study in the Cape, 90 per cent of smokers were able to source them easily during level 4.
Smoking across the world remains a danger and kills over 8 million people a year, according to an international poll taken in 2019. Sorry smokers. COVID-19 attacks the lungs just like tobacco, the government says. This, even though South Africa at this stage, looks like the only country in the world that has a problem with smoking during the lockdown. If you want to recover from your nicotine addiction, you can try wearing Nicotine patches.
Is it possible to force people to quit an addiction?
However, everyone knows that people must want to stop their addiction. Forced quitting of any addiction seldom works. And more than that, people now feel their personal choices are being made for them by a nanny state. And, they complain that tar and nicotine content’s so high in the illegal cigarettes that they likely damage their lungs even more,
On Twitter, pro-smokers complain that diabetes is a massive killer, but nobody even suggested banning sugar. Like the initial ban on alcohol, feelings run high. With the unbanning of alcohol, smokers suspect that some members of the government simply work towards a private agenda.
Your thoughts on the smoking ban in South Africa
What do you think about the government’s stance on tobacco products? Can anyone force an entire country of smokers to simply quit? Is the illegal trade and criminalization of nicotine simply creating a new opportunity for drug dealers and black-market profiteers? Or, do you think in the long run, smokers will simply give up and thank their lucky stars that someone forced them to quit? Sound off in the comment below.
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