Illegal cigarettes and substance abuse

South Africa has banned the sale of cigarettes during lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 but the big illegal cigarette brands are now the best sellers around the country.

“As most of us know, smoking is one of the leading causes of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases worldwide. Unlike legally produced cigarettes, illicitly produced cigarettes do not comply with manufacturing and safety standards,” warns Estelle Raath, the deputy manager of Johannesburg-based Sanca Wedge Gardens rehab centre.

Cigarettes contain the addictive drug nicotine, as well as other toxic chemicals which are carcinogenic (cancer forming).

“There is no safe method of smoking. Nicotine in tobacco is a very powerful addictive substance. Nicotine produces pleasing effects in your brain, but these effects are temporary, and that is why you reach for another cigarette.

“The addictive nature of nicotine and withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit are what makes nicotine dependence a chronic relapsing disease.

“With the current cigarette ban, my question is ‘If the smoking of legally produced cigarettes can cause so many diseases, what are the illegal brands doing to smokers?’

“What other effects will smokers be sitting with post COVID-19 and will we see a rise in substance abuse figures if these illegal cigarettes contain chemicals that will leave smokers with more severe symptoms and withdrawals?”

To contact Wedge Gardens, call 010 534 6596 or visit www.wedgegardens.co.za

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