The organization Tax Justice SA has renewed its call on the government to lift the ban on the sale of tobacco products after a leading expert said there was “no evidence” that smokers occupy the hospital beds.
Yusuf Abramjee, the founder of Tax Justice SA, said on Friday that prof. Lucille Blumberg, deputy director of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, said in an online broadcast of the institute: “There is no direct and good information or research linking smoking to serious Covid-19.”
According to Abramjee, after 17 weeks of a ban on the sale of tobacco products, the government has not yet been able to state a single proven medical reason why the sale of tobacco products is still taboo.
“The only beneficiaries are criminals in the illegal trade who earn R100 million a day by exploiting a gap in the market and selling very expensive cigarettes to desperate South Africans.
“One of the government’s own leading experts, prof. Blumberg, admitted today that there is no evidence to suggest that smokers are at greater risk due to Covid-19. However, she does not mention that there is international research – which has been checked by other experts – which shows that smokers are less likely to end up in hospital due to Covid-19. “
Abramjee says that at this stage South Africa has the only ban on the sale of cigarettes and that 300 000 jobs in the tobacco value chain are in jeopardy due to the decision. The state has also lost about R4 billion in lost excise tax.
“While the whole country is haunted to process the crest of the virus, they are told that honesty and hard work do not pay, but crime does.