News / South Africa / Protests

Evelyn Morris
2 minute read
8 Jul 2020
2:13 pm

WATCH: Disappointing Durban turnout for #SmokersUniteSA protest against cigarette ban

Evelyn Morris

#SmokersUnite were protesting the continued prohibition of cigarettes on Wednesday morning.

Image: Supplied.

Fewer than a dozen smokers arrived early on Wednesday, 8 July, to show their discontent for the government’s ban on the sale of tobacco products.

The protest, under the banner #SmokersUniteSA was set to take the form of a slow drive departing simultaneously from various assembly points.

In addition to the protest action in Durban…Cape Town, Johannesburg, Nelspruit and Pretoria residents were also set to take part in the protest.

READ MORE: Today’s tobacco ban could encourage a culture of tomorrow’s tax avoidance

According to Berea Mail, the smokers left from the rooftop parking of The Pavilion Shopping Centre to take part in a slow drive convoy along the N3 to the Durban High Court on Wednesday morning.

Queensburgh resident, Dwayne Robinson, helped to organise the Durban protest as a member of the Let Our Voices Be Heard SA group. The members are calling for the regulations prohibiting cigarette sales to be lifted.

Westville resident Vanessa Kelley said she was tired of the ban. The National Covid-19 Command Council (NCCC) banned the sale of tobacco products late in March.

“I am taking part in this just to let the government know that we are tired of their nonsense. Alcohol kills more than cigarettes do. So why can we have alcohol and not cigarettes?” asked Kelley.

The smokers said they were angry that the regulations had criminalised them, as most were now illegally sourcing cigarettes.

Parker, a Queensburgh resident, added he was disappointed at the small turnout.

ALSO READ: Bad news for smokers: High court says cigarette ban was rational

“I had these banners made especially for this protest and expected way more people to be here, but we will carry on regardless,” said Subashan Pillay who had travelled from Phoenix to be at the 7am start.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said during a virtual Presidential Imbizo that the ban on cigarettes would be lifted, but without mentioning the exact date or time.

He urged South Africans to accept the ban until such a time as the government deemed it okay to be lifted.

“The lockdown is still in place in terms of our regulations,” he said, reminding citizens that the national state of disaster and the rules that govern it were still in place.

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