Lobby group plans nationwide protest against cigarette ban
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Cape Town - The legal fight against the ban on the sale of tobacco products has suffered numerous setbacks recently, but a lobby group is determined to have their voices heard. The group, which calls itself Let Our Voices Be Heard SA, is planning a national protest on July 8.
The protest, under the banner #SmokersUniteSA will take the form of a slow drive departing simultaneously from various assembly points including Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Nelspruit and Pretoria.
One of the main organisers is Bev Maclean, the woman whose online petition calling for the ban to be lifted has already garnered 650 000 votes.
"This is not only for the millions in South Africa who smoke but also for the friends of smokers who want our violated rights given back, for the thousands of workers at the tobacco factories and the tobacco farmers who can't work," said Maclean.
On Friday, the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) launched an appeal after its legal bid to have the ban overturned was denied by the North Gauteng High Court.
British American Tobacco SA's challenge to the ban was also dealt a blow when the Western Cape High Court placed it on the roll for August. Batsa had indicated that the matter was urgent and had hoped to have the case heard in the last week of June.
Meanwhile, smokers across South Africa are at the mercy of black-market sellers who charge up to R300 for a pack of 20 cigarettes.
Last Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa insisted that the ban would eventually be lifted, but that the rationale for the ban was grounded on sound scientific and medical advice.