Picture: Cigarette cartons at a local informal trader's stall in Cape Town. IOL. (Zeenat Vallie).

CAPE TOWN - The proposed ban on the display of cigarettes and tobacco products has enraged traders, according to The South African Informal Traders association (Saita).

However, traders say that the proposed ban will most likely not affect their business. 

The cigarette controversy stems from draft regulations aimed at limiting the display of cigarettes and tobacco products. 

Saita's president Rosheda Muller has since emphasised that the ban will hit traders hard. 

"The Minister of Health has said he is going to ban the display of cigarettes by all traders and retailers, no matter how big or small. If you are one of the thousands of hawkers, informal traders or spaza shop owners across South Africa this ban will hit you hard. We estimate that about one third of the average informal traders’ income comes from cigarette sales. These are people who already struggle to make a living. If their cigarette market is taken away, they may be driven to a life of crime", said Muller on October 30. 

However, informal traders have disclosed that the ban may not be crippling for their business. 


An informal trader from Cape Town, Abbass said that he generates approximately R500 a day on cigarettes alone. 

"It will affect me very bad", said Abbass. 

Upon further reflection, he then admitted that cigarettes are not his big business. He, in fact, capitalises more on drinks.

"Drinks sells more", said Abbass. 


Similarly, informal trader, Stashid Ismail shared the same sentiment. 

Like Abbass, he sells an assortment of things: from chips to beverages, airtime and cigarettes. 

"I don't think it will affect the business because people want what they want. Advertising is just there but people will still buy the cigarettes", said Ismail. 

He added that even if the price of cigarettes were to increase, people will still purchase it, as long as its on the market. A lack of advertisement or display will not affect the sales of cigarettes, said Ismail. 

Ismail also does not deny the profitability of cigarettes, declaring that he would be affected if cigarettes were banned altogether. 

Notably, cigarettes range from R28 to R37, depending on the brand of cigarettes. 

On average, Ismail says he purchases a thousand rands worth of cigarettes per day. This amounts to a staggering total of R30 000 for the month. 

Despite this, Ismail says that the profit on cigarettes is rather low. 

He makes an average mark up of R2 per cartridge.

However, this proposed ban stands in contrast to Bhutan in South East Asia which has banned smoking altogether. 

Therefore, South Africa's smoking regulations appear lenient in comparison to countries such as Ireland, England and Hungary which have banned smoking in all enclosed areas such as bars and restaurants. 

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