- One of South Africa's top scientists has argued that, from a scientific perspective, there is no merit in banning smoking but allowing the sale of alcohol
- Professor Shabir Madhi says the damage caused by smoking occurs over a long period and a short period of not smoking cannot undo long-term damage already done
- Madhi says there are more reasons to ban alcohol sales than tobacco and government should rethink its stance
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Smokers will be pleased to learn that one of South Africa's top scientists is on their side regarding the tobacco ban.
Professor Shabir Madhi said that from a scientific perspective, there isn't much merit in preventing the sale of cigarettes but allowing people to buy alcohol.
The issue of the tobacco ban has been a very contentious one and has seen Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma being the subject of court cases, criticism and even racist remarks.
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Professor Shabir Madhi is a Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University and Director of the South Africa Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (VIDA).
"Unfortunately, there really isn't much merit from a scientific perspective in terms of banning smoking but allowing people to buy alcohol – in fact, what we are seeing right now is that the sale of alcohol is resulting in an increased pressure on our healthcare facilities."
Briefly.co.za reported that Professor Madhi and his team have began the first Covid-19 vaccine trials in Africa. They will be conducting the study on 2 000 subjects aged between 18 and 65.
On 1 June, the country moved to lockdown Level 3, allowing for the sale of alcohol but still banning tobacco sales. Since then, there has been several calls by government officials to reinstate the ban because of the strain the healthcare system is facing due to alcohol-linked trauma cases.
According to Madhi, there is more of a case to be made in terms of banning alcohol sales rather than the banning of cigarettes, reported News24.
Madhi added that:
"I think, unfortunately, this discussion has become unmanageable because different people have dug in their heels in terms of their position.
"But, from a scientific perspective, there is very little evidence to indicate that stopping smoking tonight is going to overnight result in you having a reduced risk of developing infection or severe Covid-19 because those changes in the lungs are changes that occur over a long period of time."
TimesLIVE reported the Madhi said he estimates actual coronavirus infections to be 10 times more than the reported number, adding that the country likely has over a million cases.
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