As lockdown remains so does the ban on cigarettes. Smokers in South Africa have been paying between R80 and R300 for one packet of cigarettes. Many have been paying for odd brands they have never heard of. Cartons are even more expensive, some have said they’ve paid almost R3000 for a carton through various connections.

More than 90% of smokers have been able to purchase cigarettes during the period.

Professor Corné van Walbeek, the director of the Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products, performed an online survey, where 6 000 respondents completed the survey. The aim of this particular survey was to understand smokers’ behaviour during lockdown.

“Our unit has a strong public health focus and our research is often in conflict with the tobacco industry’s rhetoric. We do objective and rigorous research. We did not do this study to take sides with any grouping; we simply wanted to understand what was going on in smokers’ lives.”

The survey was conducted between 29 April and 11 May, 2020.

About 41% of respondents said that they had tried to quit during the lockdown period, and 39% of these were successful. 12% of respondents that had quit smoking successfully said that they will start smoking when they can buy cigarettes again.