First they prohibited alcohol sales, and now, they’ve come for our tobacco enthusiasts. South Africa looks like it is using the upcoming lockdown period to put us all into rehab. As confirmed by the government last night, cigarettes will now be treated like all non-essential goods: Meaning they can’t be purchased in-store.
It’s a bitter blow for millions of South Africans. With vape stores (for e-cigarettes) closing nationwide, the alternative has also been stopped at source – but the Vapour Products Association of South Africa (VPASA) are seeking an exemption from the rules, arguing that they provide an “essential service”.
“We are seeking clarity over whether vape stores are to be included in those essential premises that can remain open, given their vital role in helping people to stop smoking. This is particularly important during such an unprecedented public health crisis.”
Thursday marks the last day before we enter a three-week lockdown period, and emergency measures have prompted panic buying among the South African public. Trolleys are filling with booze, and as we countdown to midnight, people are stocking up on other items – but the stores will remain open for the next few weeks, it’s important to remember that.
The general argument from the government is that our stores and markets must focus all their energy on providing the essentials, such as food, drinks and medical supplies. Cigarettes simply do not come down as an “essential”, despite what a large number of our compatriots would say.