The Institute for Security Studies says it’s too early to tell if the government is winning the war against the illicit cigarette trade.
The ban on tobacco sales costs the country billions of rand in lost tax revenue.
ISS researcher Richard Chelin says before the lockdown SARS estimated the loss, through illegal cigarette trade, at about R6 billion per year.
“Now, during the lockdown, the illicit trade has increased. The ban has increased the capacity to address that issue.
“Are they winning? Yes, they are making arrests. They are confiscating. They are doing the right things. They are making progress, but to say they are winning the fight is still to be seen.
Judgment was reserved in British American Tobacco’s court challenge of the ban on the sale of tobacco products.
The government defended the ban, saying it intends to curb the spread of the virus.
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