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BATSA warns cigarette ban risks lockdown defiance by desperate smokers

In a statement BAT-SA said the temporary ban will unintentionally force 11 million smokers to go outside of their neighbourhood in search of outlets willing to defy the regulations.

A man smokes a cigarette. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG – The South African arm of British American Tobacco (BATSA) has urged government to reconsider its ban on cigarette sales during the nationwide lockdown, saying it would have unintended consequences.

During the lockdown essential services retailers and petrol station stores are not allowed to sell alcohol or cigarettes.

The government has justified the ban on studies showing that smoking can make people more susceptible to serious complications from a coronavirus infection.

However, in a statement, BATSA said the temporary ban will unintentionally force 11 million smokers to go outside of their neighbourhood in search of outlets willing to defy the regulations.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde says he's seeking clarity on the ban.

“We also had a discussion on the lockdown regulations and we will continue to work on these with the minister of [cooperative governance and traditional affairs], and we will get these clarities and make them available.”