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Smokers delighted to be able to buy favourite cigarette brands again

Tobacco sales reopened on Tuesday for the first time since the COVID-19 lockdown was introduced in March. It led to growth in the sale of illicit brands on the black market, but today, store shelves have been restocked and some shops have sold out due to the demand.

A man enjoys one of his favourite brands of cigarettes outside a shop in Athlone, Cape Town, as cigarettes are unbanned after South Africa moved to level 2 of the coronavirus lockdown on 18 August 2020 in Cape Town. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - Smokers can finally get their lips on the favourite legal cigarette brands.

Tobacco sales reopened on Tuesday for the first time since the COVID-19 lockdown was introduced in March.

It led to growth in the sale of illicit brands on the black market, but today, store shelves have been restocked and some shops have sold out due to the demand.

Studies showed that most smokers had not quit during the lockdown and that they had simply found illegal ways to get their fix.

Some smokers told EWN that they'd been relying on what they called "connections".

However, it was costly.

A pack of 20s that would normally cost R40, went for between R120 and R200 on the black market.

And worse still, smokers had to puff on cheaper, illicit brands that many were not used to.

"It's great to be able to smoke what you used to, not the Fong Kong stuff. I bought a 20-packet of Rothmans early this morning and it was worth 12 [of the illicit cigarettes]," one woman said.

"I'm very, very, very happy to have my best friend back - Benson and Hedges Smooth Blue," another smoker explained."

This smoker, who quit for five weeks because it was too costly, said that he was happy to be able to light up again.

"Hell yeah, we should have the right to decide what we want to do and there's no medical reason whatsoever for us to quit cigarettes."

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