Coronavirus: Cigarette ban costing government over R1 billion monthly

Coronavirus: Cigarette ban costing government over R1 billion monthly

- The lockdown regulations regarding the national ban on cigarettes have been met with fierce condemnation

- While the government argues that both cigarettes and alcohol weaken the immune system, it's clear they are losing some serious coin

- A report indicates the government could lose over R1 billion a month should the ban continue

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The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association has called on the government to rethink the unexpected ban on cigarette sales.

The Citizen reports that over R1 billion will be lost to the state if the ban continues with the industry body warning that civilians could resort to illegal activities to bypass the regulation.

The report indicated that citizens may travel across provincial lines in an attempt to purchase and smuggle cigarettes, flouting lockdown rules in the process.

FITA chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni urged the government to reconsider their current stance

“We would, therefore, urge government as a whole to reconsider this aspect of the regulations in order to avoid, inter alia, a large-scale state of unlawfulness where citizens are contravening the lockdown regulations in order to acquire cigarettes."

READ ALSO: Cele warns WC, cigarette sales still not allowed amid lockdown

In addition to the huge financial hit of the ban, a large number of jobs may also be at risk according to Mnguni who said that authorising retail stores, spaza shops and petrol stations to sell tobacco once more would boost the economy and avoid instances of citizens contravening the lockdown regulations.

Mnguni pointed out the sale of cigarettes was continuing through illegal channels in any case, with the SA Revenue Service losing out in the process. reported that the Western Cape provincial government had attempted to overturn the ban in the region.

However, it soon became apparent that the DA-led government had overreached, with a spokesperson confirming that it did not possess that kind of power.

This comes after Premier Alan Winde reportedly said that the law could be interpreted to say cigarettes, specifically, had not been banned.

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