Coronavirus: U-Turn on Cigarettes Sale is Economic Sabotage

“Illicit cigarettes are flooding the market at massively inflated prices, delivering no tax to the country and actively increasing the movement of people – the very thing the lockdown is supposed to prevent."

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single cigarette stick with ashes stick
single cigarette stick with ashes stick. Photo by Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash

Tax Justice South Africa (TJSA) condemns tonight’s announcement of an extension to the cigarette ban as “life-endangering economic sabotage”.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s said last Thursday that the ban on the sale of cigarettes will be lifted from May 1, when the country enters a less strict level 4 lockdown. But Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said late on Wednesday that the ban on cigarettes should remain.

Dlamini-Zuma cited the health risks associated with smoking and the sharing of cigarettes as the reasons for the revised decision and said that alcohol would remain prohibited for the foreseeable future.

“The National Command Council’s U-turn on the decision made by the President last week flies in the face of all evidence emerging from the world’s strictest lockdown,” TJSA founder Yusuf Abramjee says.

“The ill-thought prohibition of cigarettes is impoverishing the nation, enriching criminals and destroying the public’s faith in the lockdown.”

The establishment of Tax Justice South Africa is a rallying cry to the people and to Government to take action against organised criminal gangs that are plundering South Africa.

Founded by Abramjee, Tax Justice South Africa will campaign for a lawful and prosperous South Africa and for urgent action against criminals who steal billions in legally due taxes every

“The Government is throwing away R35 million every day in taxes at a time when its citizens are starving. Meanwhile, criminals are pocketing that money by luring South Africa’s 11 million smokers to the black market,” said Abramjee.

“This is life-endangering economic sabotage that hands trade to the organised syndicates who flourished under SA’s decade of ruinous leadership.

“Illicit cigarettes are flooding the market at massively inflated prices, delivering no tax to the country and actively increasing the movement of people – the very thing the lockdown is supposed to prevent.

“Government knows the illicit economy is booming. Earlier this week, a report by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) found that one in four informal settlement residents have been able to buy cigarettes, and illegal traders have been cashing in nationwide..”

1 COMMENT

  1. I don’t believe people want to commit crime but even I who have been a completely law abiding citizen feel tempted to break the law to get smokes. Smokers are always being persecuted and until now my vise only harmed me. Surly banning cigarettes is actually worse for everyone than allowing the sale, all this encourages is finding an underground route to what is needed. If we look at history it has always been like this.

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