Alcohol and cigarette increases unfair and ridiculous, say consumers

Alcohol and cigarette increases unfair and ridiculous, say consumers. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Alcohol and cigarette increases unfair and ridiculous, say consumers. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 21, 2024


Sin tax increases as tabled by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana have been described as “ridiculous and unfair” to ordinary South Africans.

The sentiment comes after Godongwana finally revealed the highly anticipated Budget Speech in Parliament, announcing a few scathing increases, especially for alcohol and cigarettes.

He explained that alcohol products’ excise duties would be increased above the inflation rate by 6.7% and 7.2% for 2024/25.

As a result of this, beers, ciders and alcoholic fruit beverages will increase by 14 cents, a bottle of wine by an extra 28c; a bottle of fortified wine by 47c, and sparkling wine by an additional 89c.

But perhaps the most scathing rise was the R5.53 increase to be levied on spirits such as whisky, gin and vodka.

“We also propose to increase tobacco excise duties by 4.7% for cigarettes and cigarette tobacco, and by 8.2% for pipe tobacco and cigars,” he added.

Despite the rationale provided for the increases for alcohol and cigarettes, some consumers slammed the increases as too exorbitant.

One consumer, Musa Malungani, said given the drastic economic instability, interest rates, inflation and many other factors such as fuel tax, PAYE and general household expenses, the increases were not fair.

“I feel it’s quite unfair to levy such ridiculous rates on taxpayers and South Africans in general, given the pressure we are all currently facing. Granted this may make a positive impact on our health in general, but I feel there are other platforms that can be used to educate consumers about the dangers of alcohol than just to increase the levy with the hope that only a few will afford it.”

He added: “In fact, this might as well worsen the situation in which we’re likely to spend more on alcohol than we do on organic foods, which is likely to lead to the same impact they're trying so hard to mitigate against.”

Malungani said he purchased at least four bottles of wine, two bottles of cognac and three bottles of gin weekly.

Alcohol and cigarettes are to increase in price following the Budget speech. Picture: Cindy Waxa

In some cases, especially when out with friends and family, the amount of money forked out was dependent on the venue – be it a restaurant, chisa nyama, club or tavern.

At an expensive establishment, Malungani said at times he forked out roughly R1 200 on gin, R500 on wine, anywhere between R1 500 and R2 500 on cognac and at least R2 500 for a bottle of champagne.

Helen Phushela said while the alcohol increases were not that bad, she would be going out less to avoid having to buy alcohol products at inflated prices in restaurants and clubs.

“I don’t think the increase is too bad itself, but I can say I will definitely not be going out as often or to restaurants as they will ultimately increase the prices to cover their costs and still make a profit.”

William Tshabalala said although the increases were unreasonable, he understood the rationale behind them.

“I spend way more on cigarettes, roughly R110 per week, and I don’t really blame him *Godongwana) at all. I just wish the money was used for good and not the rulers’ pockets.”

Lenah Nyawane said: “If people could afford and find ways to purchase alcohol and cigarettes during the Covid-19 lockdown period at skyrocketing prices, trust me we will continue to buy these things even after these increases.

“Yes, I’m hurt but I am still going to buy it, because it eases the stresses of life.”

The Star