It would seem Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s worst nightmare came true. When she addressed the nation regarding the ban on cigarette sales earlier this year, she famously said one of the reasons for the ban is that smokers who share their “zol” are at risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Researchers from the University of Cape Town have proven that instating the ban has in fact increased the number of people who share cigarettes. The percentage of respondents indicating that they regularly shared individual cigarettes has increased from 1.7% pre-lockdown to 8.9% during lockdown, the study found. This is an increase of 430%.

The survey also found that around 93% of continuing smokers purchased cigarettes illegally during the lockdown.

“The main sources of cigarettes for smokers in our survey are friends and family (27%), spaza shops (25%), street vendors (11%) and WhatsApp groups (8%),” the paper states. “Formal retail outlets, which were the predominant outlet before lockdown (53%), have all but disappeared (0.3%).”

As COVID-19 is known to be a respiratory disease that can be spread through saliva droplets, sharing a cigarette with someone who has the virus puts you at a significantly high risk of getting infected.

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Picture: Pexels

Article written by

Anita Froneman