‘We understood the reasons and we agree,’ says parliamentary health committee chair

The chairperson of the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Health, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, has welcomed the continued ban on the sale of tobacco products during level 4 of the lockdown.

Last week, when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the phased approach to exiting lockdown, and that the country would go to level 4 on Friday, he said tobacco products would be allowed to be sold, much to the relief of smokers.

However, when Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced the new regulations on Wednesday evening, she said tobacco products would not be sold.

On Thursday, the chairperson of the committee said they agreed with the decision.

“We understood all the reasons mentioned and we agree that┬ásmoking is bordering on personal hygiene, and it is a collective responsibility for all of us not to spread the virus from one person to the other,” said Dhlomo, a former MEC for health in KwaZulu-Natal, according to a statement.

“One of the other aspects that we have noted from understanding the physiology of this illness is that it heavily affects the respiratory system, in particular, the lungs. We have observed that a significant number of people that have died of Covid-19 are those that had asthma and other respiratory conditions.”

According to Dhlomo, if you have the Covid-19 infection and tobacco on the same respiratory organ, the lungs are simply overburdened.

“We note that the significant number of people that have died in the world as a result of the pandemic have comorbidities that affect the lungs, asthma, chronic obstructive airwaves diseases and cardiovascular diseases. This comes in as a relief not to allow cigarettes, tobacco and related products at this time,” said Dhlomo.