Zuma's ban has fuelled number of people in townships sharing their 'skyfs'
Soweto Business Access, an organisation formed in 2015, yesterday added its voice to numerous other bodies that have called for the government to lift the ban on the sale of cigarettes.
"The truth is cigarettes have become much harder to get hold of during the lockdown, and much more expensive. More and more people are ending up sharing cigarettes due to the price and scarcity, and are sharing saliva when they share cigarettes, not because they want to but because the government has made cigarettes almost unaffordable,” Soweto Business Access chairperson Mphuthi Mputhi said in a statement.
“The residential premises of those that have managed to acquire cigarettes from their underworld contacts have become magnets for social gatherings for teenagers.
"It is within these yards that young smokers were now sharing cigarettes in groups, in the same fashion as people have been known to gather to smoke illegal drugs like meth, wonga, nyaope, etc. Is our country ready for the spike in such skyf sessions in high schools and varsities,” Mputhi said.
Because most cigarettes are now being sold as loose draws or singles, consumers have no way of knowing their origin, contents or whether they contained narcotics.
“This is a very real concern for us, and one which the government seriously needs to consider,” he said.
Meanwhile, Agri SA, an organisation representing commercial farmers, also yesterday added its voice calling for the lifting of the ban, as the illegal trade of tobacco products had gained “irrefutable momentum during the past few weeks,” and the decision to ban the formal and legal tobacco trade had not had the necessary benefits.
“Smokers are buying illicit cigarettes on an unprecedented scale. Much of the illicit cigarettes do not adhere to industry and government safety standards
"What is clear is the legal tobacco value chain and workers employed are suffering tremendous economic hardships. The state loses taxes of R1.5billion monthly. The only winners are the illicit trade,” the organisation said.