Between 27 March and 17 August 2020, the South African Government imposed and extended a ban on the sale of all tobacco and vaping products, as part of the lockdown to fight the COVID-19 virus. The South African Lockdown Smoking Survey (SALSS) is an online survey that collected data on cigarette smoking behaviour before, during and after this sales ban. The Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP), based at the University of Cape Town, conducted 3 online surveys between 29 April and 16 November to determine how individuals responded to the ban on cigarette sales during the lockdown, and to evaluate how it impacted the cigarette market in South Africa. The first and second surveys (SALSS Round 1 and Round 2) were designed to assess how cigarette smokers responded to the sales ban in terms of smoking prevalence and purchasing behaviour (prices paid, outlet type and brand choice). The third survey (SALSS Round 3) was conducted after the sales ban had been lifted and focused on how the market adjusted after the ban.
Kind of Data
Qualitative and quantitative data
Unit of Analysis
v1: Edited and anonymised for public distribution
Rounds 1 and 2 were conducted before and during the lockdown. Modules investigated smoking behaviour, quitting, stocking up, access to cigarettes during lockdown, purchases (including price, outlet type and brand purchased), perceptions of the lockdown and COVID, and socio-economic and demographic information. Rounds 1 and 2 are cross-sectional.
The questionnaires for Round 1 and Round 2 are similar except that Round 2 excludes detailed questions on stock-up, and added some additional questions regarding when during the lockdown respondents quit, and whether respondents ever shared individual cigarettes.
Round 3 was conducted once the ban had been lifted, and added questions about the use of other tobacco products beyond cigarettes, such as pipe tobacco, cigars, snuff, waterpipe, and electronic cigarettes. Round 3 was a longitudinal subset of Round 2, including only respondents who agreed in Round 2 to be interviewed again.
The survey was advertised to all South Africans using social media, specifically: Twitter (the REEP twitter account), Moya (a data-free (cost-free) instant messenger application) and Change.org (a petition website). As such there was no ex-ante sampling frame or intention to produce statistically representative estimates.
The lowest level of geographic information is Province.
The SALSS covered all South African adults (aged 18 and older) who were regular cigarette smokers (at least one cigarette per day) at the time the tobacco sales ban was announced.
Producers and sponsors
Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP)
University of Cape Town
The African Capacity Building Foundation
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The survey was developed and hosted on the SurveyMonkey website. Social media (Twitter and the petition site www.change.org) was used to advertise the survey and print media outlets were also used in Round 1. Additionally the survey advert was posted on Moya Messenger, a data-free/airtime-free instant messaging service, where user costs were covered by the survey team. Participation was encouraged by offering respondents the opportunity to win a prize.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Ethics approval was granted by the University of Cape Town’s Commerce Faculty’s Ethics in Research Committee (ref. REC 2020/04/024).
Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (formerly the Economics of Tobacco Control Project)
University of Cape Town
In each round a single self-administered online survey questionnaire was administered through SurveyMonkey. The Round 1 questionnaire was published in English and Afrikaans. Questionnaires for Rounds 2 and 3 were only published in English.
Data collected by REEP was in excel format and in various files depending on the method of contact and interview. These files were collated by DataFirst into a research-ready format.
Notes on data cleaning:
· Incomplete surveys are included with a flag to indicate such.
· Under 18s have been excluded as they were not supposed to answer the survey.
· Prices have been cleaned but those that did not match DataFirst's cleaning algorithms were not dropped but rather stored in a "price - other" variable so that the analyst can decide how to process these.
· Similarly, where the respondent indicated being unsure about the price, using words like "around, plus minus" and so on, this is indicated with a flag in the relevant rounds.
There were some changes to the survey between rounds 2 and 3: in Rounds 1 and 2 answers to questions on prices were open ended, resulting in some messy responses. In Round 3 this question had coded responses. This change may affect the response rate, the accuracy of the responses, and overall continuity. DataFirst coded responses Round 1 and 2 price information questions to improve comparability.
University of Cape Town
Public access data, available to all
Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products. South African Lockdown Smoking Survey [dataset]. Version 1. Cape Town: Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products [producer], 2021.Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2021. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/gqnk-6t92