Government has once again defended its decision to ban the sale of cigarettes as the country gears up for stage three lockdown restrictions.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday briefed members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on efforts to curb COVID-19.
The prohibition on the sale of tobacco products during the lockdown has been threatened with legal action and government has admitted that it had given rise to illegal trade by organised crime syndicates.
Dlamini-Zuma has come under fire for her position on cigarette sales.
She said that she could go to town telling members of the NCOP about the health risks associated with smoking.
This followed the president’s announcement that the sale of cigarettes would remain prohibited under level three.
“If you stop smoking, in 12 hours, the carbon monoxide in your body drops to normality. In 22 weeks, your circulation improves and your lung function increases.”
Dlamini-Zuma has also dismissed claims that she was close to cigarette trader Adriano Mazzotti.
“I must also put it on record, I am not Mazzotti’s friend and secondly, if anyone is doing crime in South Africa, they must be arrested. Whatever crime it is, whether it is with cigarettes, they must be arrested.”
She said government would further argue its case on the cigarette ban in court.
For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.