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South Africans Now Smoking Rooibos As Cigarettes Remained Banned During Lockdown

Desperate South Africans have turned to smoking Rooibos tea due to the government’s ban on the sell of cigarettes.

Since the national lockdown came into effect on 27 March, it has been illegal to buy and sell cigarettes. This means that people who smoke have now gone for almost 2 months without being able to buy cigarettes.

The publicationhas learned that some of these people have turned to smoking teas in an effort to satiate their intense cravings.

A 29-year Melville resident who used to smoke Golden Virginia rolling tobacco told publication Business Insider SA,“Smoking tea doesn’t quite satisfy the craving but tricks the mind well enough.

“So, the transition to smoking tea was fairly easy.”

Another smoker who is now smoking tea complained that Rooibos is difficult to roll because it is too dry. He, however, said that Rooibos is surprisingly strong.

“The leaves are very dry, so the texture is not ideal. Smells like veld fire. Tastes like lawn with a slight hint of stable.

“Not Texan strong, but Stuyvesant red strong.”

The Melville smoker also echoed the sentiments that Rooibos is difficult to roll because of its dryness.

“It tastes a little like a forest fire but leaves a nice rooibos-y aftertaste. I smoked plain rooibos, without adding anything to it. It burns surprisingly well like an actual cigarette would, but it’s quite difficult to roll because the tea is so dry.”

However, a lung expert warned against smoking tea saying that it could result in structural lung damage in the long term.


Desperate South Africans Now Smoking Rooibos
Desperate South Africans Now Smoking Rooibos


Professor Keertan Dheda, director of the Centre for Lung Infection and Immunity and head of the division of pulmonology at the University of Cape Town, told the publication

“…smoking tea will result in the inhalation of several substances, including caffeine and particulate matter, which is likely to be harmful in the long run. Chronic inhalation of particulate matter is often associated with subversion of immune responses and structural lung damage and therefore, as a general rule, I would advise against it.”

Professor Dheda stressed that studies need to be done to explore this further and unequivocally demonstrate the dangers of smoking tea leaves.

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