FITA says tobacco ban is increasing illicit trade of cigarettes
Durban - The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association has submitted a 106-page affidavit in its urgent court bid to overturn the ban on cigarette sales during the country’s Covid-19 lockdown.
In the 106 page affidavit which is supported by submissions from health experts, tobacco company owners and petitions initiators, the association which represents six tobacco companies in the country, says the decision was not well-thought out and it ignored the plight of 11 million smokers.
The association is represented by Morgan Law Inc and the first respondent is President Cyril Ramaphosa, while the second respondent is Dr Nkoszana Dlamini-Zuma, the minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs.
In court papers, FITA chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni said the cigarette sales ban infringed on the rights of smokers.
“FITA has brought this application on an urgent basis in terms of Uniform Rule 6(12) inter alia on the basis that: 13.1. section 27 of the level 4 regulations directly affects the freedoms previously enjoyed under law by approximately 11 million cigarette smokers and tobacco users in South Africa;
"13.2. the sudden and clearly ill-considered ban on the sale of legal tobacco products seriously affects and impacts upon the health and welfare (both physical and psychological) of millions of citizens (with well-recognised dependencies), without regard for the far-reaching traumatic effects flowing from the withholding of these products,” Mnguni’s affidavit reads.
On the same application, Mnguni says the ban, if not set aside or reviewed, will negatively impact their members' income.
“The prohibition has an enormous negative commercial impact on the manufacturers and retailers of tobacco products and their right to pursue their businesses.
"In this regard, by way of example, a report from one of the Applicant members, Gold Leaf Tobacco (Pty) Ltd as well as a confirmatory affidavit as to the contents thereof from the author, Ebrahim Ahmed Adamjee, are annexed hereto marked SM3; 13.4. the prohibition has well-recognised negative results in the form of increased illicit trade,” he argued.
Also roped in to help the association is Beverley-Anne Maclean, the creator of the petition that netted over 400 000 signatures, calling for the National Command Council to allow the sale of cigarettes on level 4. Maclean sent a sworn affidavit.
Government has been given until this coming Friday, May 8, to indicate whether it will oppose the application or not.