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First leg of Cigarette sale ban court challenge resolved

Most smokers have been able to purchase cigarettes during the lockdown period.

Most smokers have been able to purchase cigarettes during the lockdown period.

Published May 12, 2020


CAPE TOWN - The highly anticipated cigarette ban sale court application which was expected to be heard by the Pretoria High Court today has been delayed.

The case is a separate action to the proposed case that was later withdrawn by the British American Tobacco South Africa group.

The application brought forward by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA), which includes companies such as Carnilinx and Gold Leaf Tobacco, challenges the ban of cigarette sale as per lockdown regulations.

The relief sought by the association was two-fold.

Today's postponement follows after the first part of the application was resolved when the government conceded to giving FITA minutes of the National Command Council meetings in which the decision to ban cigarettes was made.

The second relief sought, which still needs to be addressed, is that cigarettes should be classified as an essential good.

In the court papers, the association said the cigarette sale ban affected the health and welfare, both physically and psychologically, of 11 million smokers. This is due to the nicotine withdrawal.

According to a summary provided by litigation expert and attorney Theasen Pillay,

the hypothesis of the entire

application dealt with the legitimacy of the lockdown regulation on the cigarette sale ban.

“It has been harshly criticized that those provisions are illogical, irrational, unrealistic even go as far as a constitutional violation. Stating that certain ministers have often not just exceeded their power but in some instances abused it.

“But it (application) also goes on to say there was an expectation created by the President Cyril Ramaphosa in the announcement that cigarette sale was to resume and the reversal of that is without legal basis,” Pillay explained.

Pillay highlighted that a lot of other industries would be looking at this matter because a lot of the reasons for this particular application could find relevance in other sectors too.

Meanwhile, a report by the Human Sciences Research Council found that only 12percent of smokers had managed to get their hands on cigarettes during the lockdown.

The survey conducted among over 19 000 people found that the majority of smokers, 88percent, were not able to buy cigarettes during the lockdown.

While 11.8percent of smokers were able to buy cigarettes during the lockdown.

“Cigarette buying was also more prevalent among those who were able to drink alcohol with friends – 26percent of people who drank alcohol with friends during the lockdown also bought cigarettes,” the council said.

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