“When you are craving a cigarette it is hard to concentrate on anything else”

Last month a smoker penned a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa calling on him to lift the ban on cigarette sales. Picture: 123RF/STEFANO CARNEVALI

While the country awaits the judgment of the Pretoria High Court on the ban of tobacco products, smokers in Komani are looking to the black-market for their nicotine fix.

Many smokers say they are prepared to suffer the crunch of exorbitant prices in the underground market because quitting is not yet an option.

Premium brands are now fetching as much as R2 200 per carton, while  “cheapies” are now going for as much as R700.

Joshua Goss, who has been smoking since 2004, says he will never quit. “I will never quit. I will continue buying my cigarettes and smoke them in front of the police.

“My great grandfather, grandfather and father, they all smoked.  My mother tried to quit and got sick. If you have been smoking for over 10 years you cannot just quit,” he says.

Goss says he is paying R1300 per carton for his preferred brand. “Availability is not an issue. It depends on your supplier. If they do not have, they know who does. The only problem is that you then get it at inflated prices,” he laments.

In a brief walkabout Cathcart Road, The Rep reporter spoke to three smokers on condition of anonymity.

A 29-year-old man who has been smoking for over 10 years, said quitting was too hard. “We need to smoke. When you are craving a cigarette it is hard to concentrate on anything else.”

He said he was feeling the pinch as prices were going up by the day. “I am now paying R10 for a cigarette. It was R8 last week.”

A man, 60, and a woman, 67, who were smoking together said they had now resorted to cheap cigarettes because they could no longer afford their preferred brands.

“It is not easy to quit. Nicotine is in the system. The ban is making us smoke counterfeits because the real ones are now too expensive,” the man said.

In an investigation, The Rep found several places in Komani selling cigarettes, including shops and street vendors.

Dylan Jacobs, who has gone a week without smoking, said he found it difficult to understand why the tobacco was still banned while restrictions on booze had been lifted.

“It just became too expensive. A carton is now going for R2100. What I don’t get is why alcohol is allowed because if you do both you end up smoking more.”


  1. There is no real proof that smokers will get Covid 10x worse, there are studies that show smokers are under represented among those needing hospital care. SA loses Billions for an ideology.

  2. NDZ is scoring out off this ban somewhere. She and her son is in this illegal cigarettes for many years. We got news for you all. We will smoke. We don’t need your approval. Its my life and my money.

    • I’m a smoker an nobody is going to tell when I can an cannot smoke NDZ is not my mother or father if my parents didn’t stop me from smoking who is she all government needs to do is bring back our cigarette’s I’m smoking for the past 38 years so pls do me a favor an go give your own children advice cause I’m not one of yours I want my cigarette’s back an that’s that its my constitutional right to do wat I’ve always done with nobody telling me wat to do we all have rights so I don’t see why our rights are being taken away from us an angry smoker

  3. I have been smoking for 34 years and government thinks people can just stop. Why don’t they stop people driving cars as they doing more damage to people and environment. Tell DZ, “I will sit in a single garage with a pack of 30s and she can sit in a double garage with her car running, see who walks out”

  4. The government don’t know what they doing ppl are turning to suicide exspesialy metal I’ll patient how many rapes depart drink driving killing since the lifted the alcohol ban an now in gauteng the cases is raising so much way coz alcohol a person that smoke don’t do this thing

    • My mom of 75 has been a smoker all her life, she’s still with us and in excellent health. She can’t just stop, it’s ridiculous to see how she stresses not having a cigarette, she says it’s to expensive now but she still make a plan and we support her to etc.

  5. NZ needs to grow up she is making people take drugs because they cant smoke. I’m not a smoker. They need to fire her . PEOPLE ARE GOING HUNGRY BECAUSE OF THE BLACK MARKET illicit cigerette trade

  6. i support Mrs Zuma ..people are still sharing the cigarette… and though. they ought to .keep them selves safe .they not wory this is serious.but on the other side….it is wrong what the Ndz …doing .the president. has announced the cigarettes that will be permitted. but she disagree… that means .she undermine the presidential decisions.😢

  7. I’ve been smoking for 60 years now , even worked in the filthy mines , find it very difficult to quit , suffering retractions , very hard to concentrate

  8. Why don’t they rather ban begging or the selling of food along the roadsides!!! Gov is aware that money can be a carrier of the virus, but no, always target the law abiding citizens!. Gov should rather start looking after their children of the future, and leave us smokers alone that are responsible smokers. If i buy my quota smokes for the month and stay at home, how does Covid-19 affect me? How intelligent must u be to figure that out? The alcohol ban was lifted, and all the irresponsible grown-ups, and even law enforcement ppl were caught either on DUI’s or accidents, but thats an OK for Gov as it does’nt have any connection to Covid-19!!! Government is the cause of the majority of deaths in this country, not Covid-19!!! Please grow up and leave my health and the health and safety of my family to me. U have only made irresponsible decisions so far when it comes to health issues…If ppl want to be irresponsible in these times, dont punish the majority of responsible law abiding citizens of this country that are taking Covid-19 serious. At the end of the day there will be more responsible ppl left in the world.
    PS: My comments are focused solely on the abovementioned matters, and i truly grieve for those that have been subjected to the virus via irrisponsible ppl.

  9. I would also like to know how many smoke related casualties there are at the hospital emergency rooms per week compared to drunken behaviour, as they say it is costing the health system an lot of money. This is down right cruel and ridiculous. Let see their answer to that one!

  10. I’ve been smoking since the age of 13 and I’m 51, now and no Corona virus has affected me and I will continue to smoke!!!!!

  11. Yes. people won’t stop smoking, especially if someone else tells them to do so. They will stop on their own accord and time. Now they will go to any lengths to get a smoke. Government must unbanned the cigarettes

  12. They are old people that need to leave the politics for younger people .Guys election will soon be here let’s show them who is in charge not these people that make decision that is not in the interest of this country.People is not adhering to these rules and I blame them that sit on parliament

  13. I am a non smoker but the ban on cigarettes makes no sense. I am considerably more likely to be injured or killed by a drunken driver than suffer from my husband’s smoking.
    I definitely believe that the cigarette ban is to help those operating the black market. The reason for unbanning alcohol is that anyone can make home brews and therefore undermine the black market.

  14. WE are in trouble as our close family cant get the smoke they even stole mi shoes So That they can get That expanseve cigarrate. 1loose Straaww goes för R10

  15. People will never stop smoking period. I’m sure NDZ will be smiling to the bank to collect her loot from illegal sales.

  16. I’m not a smoker nor a drinker of alcohol but I know even before Lockdown, that the use of alcohol causes more trouble than smoking cigarettes. Most/a lot of alcohol users become dangerous and violent. Besides that the accident rate we nt up drastically. Domestic violence against women and children, soared. Rape and murders happened. The list of social ills can go on. Government are not doing justice to the citizens of South Africa by continuing the banning of tobacco and its products. More harm is done to the people’s health, finances, the country’s economy and helping foreigners to become richer. That’s my earnest opinion.

  17. Zuma and her son Edward is definitely playing time here to make enough money with almagated tobacco. Another act of corruption. Typical government strategy again.. The place in our area got raided by police the other day and then heard days later that police were selling the confiscated cigarettes.. South Africa again. If government can do this what stops the citizens


  19. This is so true I’m on my last pkt and stressed out as to where to get more cigs after 57 yrs of smoking I’m enjoying my old age with a cig and cuppa coffee

  20. I smoke and I damage my own health. You don’t want to unban smoking. But you unban booze so that the idiots go and drink themselves in a stupor and get in a car and and kill innocent people. THAT I REALLLLLLLLLLLLLY DON’T UNDERSTAND. SO IT’S IS FINE TO GO OUT AND KILL INNOCENT PEOPLE

  21. Smoking does not affect you or your lifestyle like alcohol does,I think the reason why the government lifts the ban on alcohol is because they all alcohics and their alcohol supply is dry,what they not realize is they putting people’s life’s at risk when people are drunk,cause now it’s drunk driving and wreckless behavior,who is wreckless when smoking,they are just plain stupid for so called Geleerde Mense

  22. I was smoking since I was in grade 6 and am i now turning 50 this ….i dont know how to quit hys like a fix I cannot think without my cigarett

  23. You know when a child is told not to do something they will do so on purpose,now we are as a nation being treated as kids,not only thinking of the financial ramifications that the ban has on tax and country,but on a personal level. Smoking has been around for a long time so who are they to tell me that my habit is not cosure,when a certain influential person has a monitary stake in all of this , I as you how is it that one can get ahold of cheap smokes easily and for interest sake see who is the manufacturer of said cheapies then put two and two together,this is not a fair judgement of constitution but a very one sided gold mine that has been created at our expense.

  24. The Government is making a huge mistake with the cigarette ban. Allot of people will get the coronavirus because of the ban.
    Allot of people are going to the “Black market” for their cigarettes and exposing them selves to people who travel around to get there supplies.
    Where if you could get it at the shop, you follow protocol and go home.
    They have no right to take our rights away, our right to choose whether we want to smoke or not.

  25. The ban has to be lifted its ones own choice to smoke. It has nothing to do with covid 19. Cigarettes are still freely available . We are paying 10 times more for a packet of cigg. Ppl selling cigg under lockdown are getting rich overnight. This ban has to come to an end. Why is alcohol legal and not cigg. Afterall alcohol causes more damage than cigg

  26. My mom is 82 years old and a chain smoker. Does the Governent not realise what they are doing to these poor old people who only lives on a Government pension. Give us our right to smoke. Let the elderly enjoy their last habits opposed to you forcing them to go cold turkey. There are alot of other things that kills so why us smoking an issue all if a sudden. Why is Dlamini Zumma so worried yet they own cigarette companies. Its all about getting their crap sold. Our elderly have so much stress and pains, why take their only comfort away. Think again….

  27. Govt has never cared for the citizens, every vote time the same old lies are trotted out. I’m not expecting smokes to be unbanned any time soon, smoking is NZD’s ideology & she’s as stubborn as a mule.

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