Why is there a cigarette ban in South Africa?

I am writing this article as both an ex-smoker and a professional that works in the field of mental illness.  I am looking for someone that can justify the cigarette ban in SA during the covid-19 pandemic  The ban on alcohol is due to the altered state of mind that goes with intoxication, which can lead to adverse behaviours.  But cigarettes?  In my day smoking did not lead to an altered state of mind or any adverse behaviours.  However, to deny a person access to their cigarettes especially during a time of extreme stress can certainly lead to violence.  Whoever has passed this absurd restriction has clearly never been a smoker therefore has absolutely no insight in this regard.  But can someone not explain this to them?  Domestic abuse is already on the increase despite the ban on alcohol sales.  I’m warning you…just wait until smokers run out of cigarettes!


I’ve heard a couple of arguments in the support of the cigarette ban.  One is that people can only shop for essential items and cigarettes are not essential.  Tell this to someone who has been smoking for 50 years.  If this is the case then the sale of chocolate, sugary drinks, coffee, and hundreds of other things should also be banned.  Next we’re going to be given a list of what is essential and that is all we can buy.  It’s just ridiculous!  I’ve also heard that smoking will worsen the symptoms in people who become infected with the covid-19.  Fine…that’s a risk they will have to, and I’m sure will be willing to take.  And the health system can’t cope even with non-smokers getting infected.  Fine.  Again, let the smokers choose even if it means they will be not at the top of the list for treatment if it becomes limited.  A cigarette ban is just not reasonable.

Human Rights

We’re talking about human rights here guys.  It is just totally unreasonable and it needs to be stopped.  I know a lot of smokers and being an ex-smoker myself, it is simply not fair.  To the best of my knowledge, a cigarette ban has not happened in any other country in the world so why here?  It is a ludicrous infringement on South Africans’ human rights.

Severe consequences

As an Occupational Therapist working primarily in the field of mental illness, the severe consequences of the cigarette ban could bring me a lot of business.  Much as I am in need of business just like every other self-employed person, I don’t want it from this route.   I am confident that there are smokers out there that are going to become depressed, anxious, possibly violent and even suicidal.  And these are people that might otherwise cope with the circumstances relatively well. Just imagine  someone who is making the best of an awful situation and then they are deprived of something that is integral to their life?  It’s like taking the cellphone away from your teenager during the lockdown.  And those of you that love your coffee…imagine not having it during this time?  As if we don’t have enough deal with at the moment, at least we should be allowed some of our luxuries whatever they may be.

If people want to buy cigarettes, coffee, data or chocolate, that’s their choice.  This choice should not be taken away at this or indeed at any other time.  Come on Mr President…you have done so well in general and now you need to be reasonable and reverse the cigarette ban.

Take care everyone.




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