The sale of cigarettes was one of the things banned during the extreme version of the South African lockdown that the South African president relaxed. During this time smoking addicts didn’t quit smoking as SABC reports. Instead the smokers found their way to illicit smuggled cigarettes most of which come from Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean cigarettes tend to be cheaper and have a higher nicotine content.
According to one expert who was interviewed by the state broadcaster, most of those who have sampled the illegal cigarettes are unlikely to switch back to legal South African brands. The South African sellers now control only as little as 9% of the cigarette market and they are unlikely to ever get back most of what they lost.