President Cyril Ramaphosa
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa answered questions from the public on Wednesday night.
  • The very first question was when cigarette sales will be legal again.
  • Here is what Ramaphosa said, in full.
  • Spoiler: the answer does not contain a date.
  • For more stories go to

When will tobacco sales be legal again in South Africa?

President Cyril Ramaphosa has an 82-word answer to that.

None of those words include a date, or even a vague reference to a date.

Ramaphosa on Wednesday answered questions from South Africans in a virtual Presidential Imbizo, which he opened with a statement that struck a cautiously optimistic note about economic recovery, and focussed heavily on gender-based violence.

But the very first question was: when will cigarette sales be legal again?

This is what Ramaphosa had to say, in full.

"As I have said in my addresses to the nation, we will not be under lockdown forever. So the ban on cigarettes will be lifted. It is still in place now in terms of our regulations and I think we should accept it as such and with time, as we go to another level and another level, the ban on cigarettes will also be lifted. And as I’ve said, cigarettes are not banned forever in our country, the ban will be lifted."

Retailers had believed that 1 July may mark the end of the prohibition on the sale of tobacco products.

See also: Casinos are open – but for members only, thanks to lockdown ID rules

Ramaphosa closed the one-hour session with another call for personal responsibility and a changes in behaviour.

"We as individuals need to know that we need to look after ourselves and those that we love," he said.

He also promised another such imbizo in future, saying the government is accountable, and available to answer questions – even difficult ones.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

See also: SA’s biggest cigarette maker is now accepting orders – and some stores hope for 1 July delivery

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