The South African government on Wednesday insisted that its current ban on tobacco products sales under the novel coronavirus pandemic lockdown was for the good health of all citizens.Tobacco traders in the country are disappointed that during the next level of the lockdown ease on 1 June, cigarettes would remain banned due to health considerations.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said the current ban on tobacco products is justified due to the negative health effects that cigarettes have on lungs, the main target area of the virus.
“Covid-19 is a novel virus which (seriously) affects the lungs,” Dlamini Zuma said this as South Africa’s death toll from 24,264 coronavirus cases claimed 524 lives on Wednesday.
She said studies from China and other countries have revealed that “people who smoke cigarettes do have problems with their lungs.”
“And if they do get the virus infection, they are more likely than non-smokers to get a serious attack of the disease,” the minister, who is a medical doctor, said.
Doctors and other health workers have confirmed that the coronavirus, unlike other viruses, targets the lungs by inhibiting their ability to take in air needed for a patient to stay alive.
And smoke from cigarettes lessens the capacity of lungs to function normally, she said, adding that in the end the virus chokes the already weakened patient to death due to air deprivation.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the country’s virus infections have yet to reach a peak, and advised citizens to continue observing preventive measures laid out to contain the pandemic.