Cigarette ban frustration saw smokers in South Africa switch on their televisions for their president’s recent speech about Advanced Level 3 lockdown. They hoped to find out when they can buy their brand of choice again. They came away disappointed.
Cigarette ban decisions leave smokers hanging
Like smoke circles floating and changing form, the government left the smokers hanging. Advanced Level 3 will be implemented and soon South Africans can indulge in hair do’s and dinners but not a word has been mentioned about the unbanning of cigarettes. Well, except for an article by IOL News about university and college students banned from smoking on campus.
The cigarette ban remains a well-meaning failure, many people think. FITA’s (Fair-Trade Tobacco Association) court case has smokers on tenterhooks waiting for the all-clear to buy legal cigarettes. But they become frustrated with waiting for the judgment. On Twitter, the association updated them by saying, “We understand the frustrations of the many people who have supported us during our challenging of the #CigaretteBan in relation to judgment in this matter.
They added, “Let us all be mindful of the fact that the record in this matter is approximately 6000 pages long.”
Humor and anger on social media
As in many situations South Africans face, humourous tweets surface as well. The judge in the FITA court case expressed irritation at the ANC’s legal representation which set Twitterati on fire. A typically South African response refers to Chappies bubble gum wrappers:
Judge – Where’s the proof that people have quit smoking ?
NDZ Lawyer *opens Chappies wrapper* : Did you know 88% of people quit smoking since the ban #CigaretteBan
— Tsek (@Tsek_Bastard) June 10, 2020
It seems that if smokers can’t laugh then they’ll cry. Even the non-smokers feel for their fellow citizens. Enough is enough Honorable Dlamini-Zuma, they think. South African smokers are citizens with rights, they tweet repeatedly. Almost no one quit smoking during the lockdown, they claim. But, many of them developed more hacking coughs because they smoke illegal rubbish.
More sinister and cynical views
When people feel helpless, conspiracy theories abound. Ask anyone who ever visited Zimbabwe. They come up with an endless supply for every social gathering. The same now happens around the cigarette ban. Accusations are varied and range from protectionism of the corrupt to plain anger.
As we head to the polls in 2021 for local elections, we shall not forget this hashtag #CigaretteBan as smokers of South Africa (all 11 million of us). The scars will forever remain as a sign of betrayal by our own @GovernmentZA @DlaminiZuma @PresidencyZA. @ANCParliament. pic.twitter.com/SQqRP0mmU7
— Richie_Zir (@RichieMcebo) June 19, 2020
Others are furious about the waste of missed tax revenue and the continued funding of crime because of systemic corruption within the policing of South Africa. The smoking ban is a smoking gun politically speaking. Just lift the ban and let the smokers get on with their lives and fatten the SARS coffers once again, people demand.
When will the cigarette ban be lifted?
Daily, as no word comes from the court, there’s a tone of desperation rising. Sadly disappointed, smokers heard that the president says it’s now up to the courts. People fear even more delays. One person noted the realities of the courts and the appeal to lift the ban. They wrote, “People clearly don’t understand what goes into a judgment, especially one of this nature. Although the matter is urgent, it is also complex. I…waited five months, in the past, for a judgment.”
If that’s the case, then South Africans could wait a very long time for any lifting of the ban. What do you think? Do you think the court case perhaps delayed the lifting of the ban, rather than helping the situation? Sound off in the comments below.
Remember to check back with SAns Newsfeed often for more news about South Africa and the cigarette ban.