A study by the University of Cape Town (UCT) has found that nearly a million South Africans quit smoking when cigarette sales were banned during the COVID-19 lockdown. The data was collected by the university’s research unit on the topic of the economics of excisable products.

The survey ran between April 29 and May 11, and had the input of over 16 000 respondents.

Titled Lighting up the illicit market: Smoker’s responses to the cigarette sales ban in South Africathe study received over 12 200 responses that were eligible to analyse.

As reported by EWN, the South African Medical Research Council’s Dr Catherine Egbe announced the study’s findings at the 2020 World Lung Conference on Thursday, October 22.

“Sixteen percent of those who reported smoking before the lockdown reported quitting during the lockdown. If you take 16% of the total number of adult smokers in South Africa, based on the 21% smoking prevalence, you would get between 800,000 and a million people,” she said.

Egbe also opined that given the available evidence, the South African government’s precautionary approach regarding the smoking ban was the appropriate response at the time.

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Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.