SA smokers have changed their habits, according to a new survey
- A new survey among 2,000 regular smokers found that almost half have now been forced to stop due to the national ban.
- This is in part due to the cost: more than a quarter of lockdown smokers have to pay at least R50 more per pack than usual.
- Only 9% of the smokers are now indulging in four to five cigarettes a day.
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A new survey among more than 2,000 South African smokers found marked changes in their habits amid the continued ban on cigarette sales during the national lockdown.
While almost 30% of the respondents smoked more than five times a day before lockdown – this has fallen to only 9% this month.
A third is indulging one to three times a day, while 9% are smoking four to five cigarettes a day.
According to the survey, 49% of the pre-lockdown smokers are not currently smoking at all.
The smokers were surveyed by M4Jam – a “micro-jobbing” platform where members do small market research jobs or complete online courses in exchange for rewards such as cash, vouchers and points. (The company recently partnered with Cell C to help boost incomes during lockdown – members who complete educational courses via M4Jam get rewards.)
According to a much larger University of Cape Town study (among 16,000 smokers), almost a third of South Africans quit smoking during lockdown – but 12% will restart once the ban is lifted
This is in part due to the cost: 95% of those surveyed by M4Jam are paying more for their cigarettes during lockdown, with more than a quarter paying more than R50 above the usual price for a pack of cigarettes.
Only 6% still had some of those cigarettes left from bulk-buying before the lockdown.
The UCT study found that more than 90% of smokers have been able to buy cigarettes during lockdown.
Almost 60% of the lockdown smokers get their cigarettes from “back-door” suppliers or individuals (59%), according the M4Jam survey. More than a quarter (26%) said they had managed to buy black-market cigarettes through local shops. Most smokers (79%) said they were not sharing their cigarettes under lockdown.
The survey found that most of the lockdown smokers have switched to new brands, including RG (47%), Sharp (30%), Remington Gold (19%) and Pacific (17%). But almost two-thirds said they would go back to buying their regular brands when the ban is lifted, which they believe are less harmful to their health, according to the respondents.
Surprisingly, 36% of smokers agreed with the banning of cigarettes. “This response dovetails quite neatly with the decision of many smokers to try to use lockdown as a hard break for their smoking habits,” says M4Jam CEO Georgie Midgley
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