International

‘Dear Mr President, please give my cigarettes back’

Alcohol and cigarette sales are banned during South Africa's lockdown

A desperate South African has reportedly addressed a letter to the president himself, asking that the national ban on the sale of cigarettes during the coronavirus pandemic be lifted.

Though her identity hasn’t been revealed, the 46-year-old woman is said to be a lifelong smoker according to TimesLive reporters who have seen the letter first-hand.

“I suffer from anxiety, withdrawal symptoms and depression because I don’t have money for food and now government is forcing us to pay 700 rand-plus [$38; £31] on the black market for cigarettes,” she is quoted as saying.

“I am an honest, law-abiding citizen but feel like a criminal because I have to drive into places where I would never normally go just to get cigarettes,” she continues.

South Africa has one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, which bans the sale of cigarettes and alcohol. Many complain this has only driven up demand on the black market.

Tobacco lobby groups are also calling for the ban to be lifted.