‘Value’ brands of cigarettes are widely sold despite the tobacco ban – and they are awful



  • South Africans turned to unusual cigarette brands from “premium brand manufacturers” during the tobacco shutdown.
  • Some would not only be illegal to sell, but also quite awful to smoke.
  • They could, in theory, also make you blind.
  • For more stories, visit www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

South African smokers have turned to cheap, gnarled, locally made smokes to get their nicotine fix in the six weeks since the government banned the sale of cigarettes.

These weird and wonderful new brands are being brought to market by so-called “valuable brand makers”. There are literally dozens of premium brands the unsuspecting South African smoker can choose from including Caesar, F1, Golden Flake, Ossum, Kingdom, Pacific Blue, Gold Mount, Sahawi, Navara, and JFK.

“Technically speaking, all cigarettes sold during the lockdown, regardless of brand, are considered ‘illegal.’ This makes the illicit trade in lockdown cigarettes 100% of the market,” said Johann van Loggerenberg, author of the burning presentation. Tobacco wars, on the illegal cigarette trade in South Africa.

Aside from being illegal, these budget brands also tend to taste pretty awful or have other serious drawbacks.

Krugersdorp resident Cheryl Taylor Lubbe normally smokes Dunhill Fine Cuts, which cost her around R48 a box. After the lockdown, she managed to score a box of Richman Blue for R180, which was “still okay and didn’t taste awful”, although they “made my house look blue with the smoke and smell. was terrible “.

When she returned to her supplier, she learned that cigarettes were selling for R450 a carton at illegal outlets, the same price as her Dunhills. So she switched to another substitute brand called Voyager and found out “why it’s called ‘Voyager’ – because these fumes fly. I easily smoked forty cigarettes a day because I felt like I wasn’t getting my dose of. nicotine”.

On top of that, the Voyagers “made my tongue feel and taste like I had eaten sour jelly babies.”

So she switched to another shady brand called Cape Navy Cut.

“The box and the cigarettes look like the candy cigarettes you could buy in the 80s and 90s.”

Welcome to the world of uncontrollable cigarette brands, moonlighting, and “severe headaches and sinusitis”.

The sale of cigarettes is illegal. They are also everywhere.

Some cafes sell them direct, others sell them through the back door, and if you’re really brave, you can buy a carton or two from your local “Nigerian drug lord,” according to a source in Johannesburg who obtains his. Sharps at R300 per carton. and his Sévilles at R400 a box at the back of a local café.

She admits that “Sharps taste like shit. They give me a thick head every morning. They stink even more than my usual brand, which is Camel.”

See also | If you smoke, be prepared to claim cigarettes are a staple – or do without them during lockdown

Yet she buys them, smokes them, and helps others get them – something she calls a hobby in the service of fighting a petty and unfair ban.

If you try low-end cigarettes, you’ll probably pay for them around three times the regular price per pack. But don’t expect sweetness. One Muizenberg resident who did not want to be named said: “They make it look like your throat has been scratched. A friend of mine developed sores all over his mouth because of them.”

She finally decided to quit smoking while in confinement, “because I’m too terrified of being thrown in jail, and not because those cigarettes are gouging your throat out. I would live happily without a throat if I could. to smoke”.

Arsenic, lead, pesticides and other gifts in illegal cigarettes

There are a few good reasons why these discounted cigarette butts taste so awful. Some of them are outright fakes that have been deposited in the illegal market by smugglers. Research has shown that fake cigarettes can contain arsenic, lead, mercury, pesticides, sulfur, dust, dirt, human feces, crushed insects and even death. rats.

Fake cigarette makers often use outdated machinery in unsanitary conditions to produce fumes that look real, but taste terrible, and could cause serious harm to local smokers.

A US research team has found that counterfeit cigarettes are full of substandard tobacco, “tobacco waste” or even moldy leaf tobacco.

The tar content of counterfeit cancer sticks is usually much higher than what you get over the counter. And they may even contain ‘bemisia tabacai’ eggs which, when inhaled, can hatch chronic parasites in humans, leading to ‘brain necrosis’.

See also | All cigarettes are bad, but illegal cigarettes are worse, especially now. here’s why

Fake cigarettes can also wreak havoc on the human reproductive system and even cause vision loss.

Up to 23% of cigarettes smoked in South Africa before the ban covered high-value brands, including fictitious versions of real brands sold by unscrupulous retailers.

“In my experience with spaza outlets, most brands did not pay tax before the lockdown [about R18.50 per pack last year], and now at R300 per box, I would bet my last dollar that these brand owners did not suddenly change their mind and decided to contribute to the Solidarity Fund, ”said Leif Petersen, co-director of the association of sustainable livelihoods. Foundation

Bad cigarettes make people quit – in favor of rooibos

Johannesburg resident Angelique Klawansky got her hands on a carton of Remington Golds for R500 and when she first tried it amid a nicotine surge brought on by the stress of the lockdown, she “inhaled it and Almost threw it on the ground. It was really despicable. Throughout the day I tried a few more, they were just as bad as the first one. “

So she traded with a friend for a packet of Savannahs, finding out on first lighting it that “not only was there less menthol than used spearmint chewing gum, but it tasted disgusting.” .

See also | Cigarette and alcohol makers get R6 billion tax holiday to offset lockdown

This, she said, “was the end of the line for me and my illicit smoking, I was done and got rid of the offending items and haven’t looked back since.”

Some people, like Capetonian Alasdair Fraser, have followed his lead and roll their own dried rooibos cigarettes instead of bombing for fake stogies. And the dried chamomile cigarettes would be useful as sleeping pills. Other South Africans who can’t stand the taste of the illegal products available are rolling dried mint to get that elusive buzz.

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