Tobacco group to appeal judgement on South Africa’s cigarette sale ban

The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) says it will appeal a High Court decision which upheld South Africa’s current ban on the sale of tobacco products.

“Earlier today we filed our application for leave to appeal the ruling of the Pretoria High Court on 26 June 2020 dismissing our application to have the ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products during the lockdown period lifted,” the group said in a statement on Friday 3 July.

“We will keep the public updated on any further developments in relation to this matter. We thank you all once again for your support throughout.”

In a ruling handed down on 26 June, the Pretoria High Court said that FITA’s argument that tobacco products be considered ‘necessary’ due to the negative effects the ban was having on those dependent on the substance was without merit.

The court also noted that FITA’s case ignored the context in which the ban was put in place – an unprecedented global pandemic, which required swift response from the government.

FITA had argued that the ban on the sale of cigarettes was detrimental to both industry and individuals, and that it was premised on irrational reasoning.

Government, meanwhile, argued that the ban is in place to protect the health of South African citizens and would encourage addicts to quit.

It also argued that smoking could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases and even death. FITA said that this is not an issue that is limited to cigarettes.

Responding to questions in a virtual Q&A on Wednesday evening (1 July), president Cyril Ramaphosa said that the ban on the sale of cigarettes is not permanent and will be lifted in due course.

“We will not be under lockdown forever. The ban on cigarettes will be lifted. It is still in place now in terms of our regulations and I think that we should accept it as such.

“With time, as we go to another level and another level, the ban on cigarettes will also be lifted. Cigarettes are not banned forever in our country, the ban will be lifted.”

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Tobacco group to appeal judgement on South Africa’s cigarette sale ban