Maintaining the country at lockdown level 3 much longer than many health experts have advised is short-sighted and is getting to a point that many industries now closed or restricted may never reopen…with disastrous consequences.
I believe the government has lost control and people are voting with their feet and continuing to do as they please. Everywhere you go you see throngs of people going about their normal business as if there is no infectious disease stalking them. Young people, since June, have been playing sport in defiance of the ban on all sporting activities. The hospitality industry, which is a major employer of people, has been sitting idly and slowly dying, if it is not already dead.
South Africans may seem callous and needing to be nannied by the state, but the reality is that South Africans are complying with many of the rules imposed on them by the pandemic.. We now have an impressive recovery rate that is around 75%, which means that the worst of the pandemic might be over. If we enforce the safety protocols as dictated by the WHO and our own scientists, we should be reasonably okay.
We cannot afford to continue to borrow money that we may never be able to repay in order to continue to offer relief to the millions who have lost their livelihoods because of the lockdown. Some have suggested that the maintenance of the lockdown regulations and the relief packages to the poor is a political ploy seeing that there are elections less than 12 months away. Would the ANC government be that cynical? I do not want to believe that but, hey, this is South Africa and anything is possible.
The tobacco industry is being decimated and the illicit trade in tobacco products is so well established that even if the ban were to be lifted tomorrow, the legal traders will either take years to claw back their lost marketshare or they may never recover it. I have seen posts on social media of people saying the ban on the sale of tobacco was the push they needed to quit the habit. The stated intentions of government to ‘help’ smokers to quit is difficult to quantify, whether it has had the desired effect or not. All I can say is that people are smoking out there – the question is where do they find the cigarettes?
I believe those who really want to smoke will continue to find ways to puff away while others will be discouraged by all the effort needed to find a cigarette and throw in the towel temporarily, as smokers have been known to do. The question is, though, about those who have chosen to find other ways to obtain cigarettes. Do they even know how they were produced and what it is in them?
At least when legal cigarette manufactures were selling their stuff they had strict guidelines on how to produce them and which ingredients were permissible under the law. Now, with this booming illicit market, who knows what people are introducing into their lungs and throats and what the long-term damage to their health could be. Who knows which cancer-causing ingredients are in these illicit cigarettes and under which conditions they are stored?
I guess with every law introduced there are intended and unintended consequences. The issue now is – to which side has the pendulum swung? I don’t smoke and have never smoked because I think it is disgusting. Why would anyone think it is a good idea to light up chemicals and inhale the smoke, all in the name of enjoyment? The packets of cigarettes have big bold writing that warns: ”Tobacco is addictive”, “Smoking damages your lungs”, “Danger: Smoking causes cancer” but still people go to great lengths to source and smoke them, nonetheless. The legal tobacco industry pays billions in taxes and employs thousands, while the illicit trade causes only harm to the economy and untold harm to the smokers themselves with no benefit to the country whatsoever. I think it is time the government takes the plunge, opens up the country and saves the economy