Covid-19 lockdown: 'Cigarette ban dangerous in many ways'
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Cape Town - The Forum for Cape Flats Civics has lambasted the founder of Tax Justice South Africa (TJSA) over his stance on the ban of cigarettes during the national lockdown.
On Tuesday, Yusuf Abramjee said the ban on cigarettes was backfiring badly and endangering the millions of South Africans it was intended to protect.
Calling for an urgent lifting of the ban, Abramjee said: “The ban is dangerous in so many ways: it is encouraging movement, encouraging looting, impoverishing people who are paying sky-high prices and impoverishing the country when it needs the money most.”
Abramjee said because 11 million smokers can't buy cigarettes in the stores they visit for food, they are forced to seek them elsewhere and spread Covid-19 unnecessarily.
Chairperson of the Forum for Cape Flats Civics, Lester September, who supports the ban, said Abramjee’s comments that the ban was leading to cravings that effectively resulted in robbery and thieving were dangerous, disingenuous and irresponsible.
However, Abramjee said the TJSA was not calling for the ban to be lifted to appease addicts.
“The nation is losing more than R35 million in excise duties on cigarettes alone, money that is desperately needed,” he said, adding that instead the money was going to criminals who were charging inflated prices on the black market.
September said there were leaders in government who have a record of issuing liquor licenses and are now asking for the relaxation on the sale of cigarettes.
Abramjee said the argument for banning alcohol was that the public’s consumption makes it harder for police to do their job. He said the same argument cannot be made about cigarettes.