You Can Still Smoke Cigarettes Says Suncoast Casino Despite the Ban

With South African casinos making a slow return during the lockdown period, there has been some controversy that’s come along with it. There have been plenty of restrictions set in place during this period, and the most controversial one is the ban on the sale of all tobacco products. Many smokers have expressed their anger following the implementation of this temporary law, and even police have enforced it, as smokers will need to provide proof of purchase, to ensure that the cigarettes were bought before the law was implemented.

Smoking has been banned in public, but you’re still allowed to smoke at home. In this segment, we’ll be taking a look at Suncoast Casino’s authorization of smoking on their properties.

The Authorization of Smoking

Casinos across South Africa have resumed operations during the lockdown period and Suncoast Casino has exercised its right to provide designated smoking areas on its property, even though strict hygiene laws and social distancing protocols are in full effect. Kelly Graham, the Communications Manager of Tsogo Sun which owns Suncoast Casino, has defended the casino by stating that the changes made to the casino floor are still adhering to the regulations that are being enforced by the government.

However, there are concerns that casino patrons are ignoring the legal ramifications regarding smoking and purchasing tobacco products, and the government fears that this may become a hotspot for illicit sales of cigarettes and similar products.

The Loophole

The reason why Suncoast Casino will get away with this is that it isn’t breaking any laws. Yes, smokers are discouraged from smoking, but the ban isn’t on smoking, it’s against the sale of cigarettes. According to the Tobacco Products Control Act 83 of 1993, casinos are allowed to provide patrons with a smoking area regardless of what the public law states.

The Ban on Tobacco Products in South Africa

The ban on all tobacco products includes rolling tobacco, hookah tobacco, cigars, cigarillos, and everything else. This has been met with national controversy and business leaders have urged Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa to overturn the ban. While smoking is harmful and puts people at risk of contracting respiratory illnesses, banning it has proven to be a double-edged sword as it has weakened the economy as there’s no source of sin tax.

There’s also been a recent backfire of the implementation of the ban, as there’s evidence of the negative financial effects of it. The ban on tobacco has led many to pursue black market cigarette-deals which have resulted in smokers paying a ridiculous fee for a carton of low-quality cigarettes. To put things into perspective, an average box of cheap cigarettes would cost R18 a box, whereas prices have skyrocketed to R70 and more. This has forced smokers to pay more for a low-quality product and the government is losing out on taxes as these are underground sales. There’s also the matter of tobacco companies forced to retrench workers as they’re no longer generating an income.

Annika Teppo Photo Annika Teppo

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