So it was with relief that smokers – and those supporting their right to smoke – welcomed the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa during an address to the nation ahead of moving from level 5 to level 4 restrictions that the ban was to be lifted.
But that was not to be, as Corporative Governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma announced shortly afterwards that the decision had been rescinded.
This means that for the past seven weeks, cigarettes have not been sold legally, leading to a massive increase in the illegal trade, with boxes of 20 selling in places for more than R100 and cartons for more than R1000.
Read more: Blown away by the ban on cigarette sales
A survey by the HSRC found cigarettes (11.8%) were more accessible than alcohol (2.5%) during lockdown, while an armed robbery at Makro…