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Shop owners relieved to be restocking up on cigarettes, welcoming back customers

Tobacco sales resumed on Tuesday after a ban that was first introduced with the COVID-19 lockdown in March.

Picture: 123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - Shop owners are relieved after restocking cigarette shelves and welcoming back old customers.

Tobacco sales resumed on Tuesday after a ban that was first introduced with the COVID-19 lockdown in March.

Some resorted to selling illicit cigarette brands under the counter with most smokers willing to break the law to get their fix.

The tobacco sales ban cost the government billions in tax revenue, while smokers faced exorbitant prices on the black market and shop keepers lost out on regular trade in the addictive vice.

Cigarette bootleggers, however, made money, charging smokers up to R200 for a pack of 20.

Some shops also sold undercover, but since Tuesday all the usual brands were back on display and the prices were back to normal.

One shop owner said he was relieved he could finally trade freely after police raided his shop numerous times.

He had been hiding cigarettes between chocolates and sweets.

And business was good as many smokers appear to be stocking up.

“I have no intention of giving up smoking… I will stock up before Mrs Zuma decides to put this ban back,” one smoker said.

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