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Fight To Lift Cigarette Ban Continues In Court

cigarette

The cigarette ban has now been in our midst for four months and South Africans have still not seen any luck with getting it lifted. Now, the case is being heard in court again. Many have argued that the ban was not a smart move made by Government and that it has had more consequences than benefits.

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The fight to end the cigarette ban continues. Those fighting for it's end, such as the British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) has said that the ban has created more damage than benefits. 

Government said the ban was put in place so that people could stop smoking and this would also help them not get Covid in a more severe form that would need them to be in the ICU. This was said as it has been proven that the virus affects your lungs and so does smoking. However, this point was argued against by Advocate Alfred Cockrell SC, on behalf of BATSA, said that Dlamini-Zuma stated that only between 10-15% of SA smokers will quit because of the ban.

He also said that only around 16 ICU beds will be occupied due to the ban and then compared that to the R38 million and jobs lost because of the tobacco ban. 

BATSA has said that the ban violates consumer rights and that it's not allowing citizens to make their own decisions and practice their rights to smoke and have privacy. Another point put across was that smoking helps reduce stress levels and that South Africans have the right to do so.

Many tobacconists have had to shut down their shops as well as tobacco farmers who have had to stop operations. Tobacco farmers are allowed to continue production and export product but they have found it difficult to sell their tobacco to South African buyers. Cockrell said it is not so easy to set up export markets because most of the tobacco produced in the country is for the domestic market and further said the entire tobacco value chain is at risk. 

Mike Evans, an attorney, said that all the consequences of the ban were "for an absolutely minimal gain" by Government.

The Fair Trade Tobacco Association has also fought the battle and has asked the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) for leave to appeal its case challenging the ban. The SCA then agreed to hear their appeal and that it would be dealt with on an urgent basis.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dlamini-Zuma's legal team said, “She took this decision well knowing, for instance, that there is a well established criminal underworld involved in illicit tobacco dealing in South Africa" and that she was providing a business opportunity for people who are in that line of work. 

Pick n Pay has also pleaded with Government to review the cigarette ban, and possibly call it off, because it's having an impact on their profit margin as well as leading to many jobs lost. Government announced the ban on the sale of tobacco products and cigarettes in March.

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