Court dismisses case against South Africa’s smoking ban

The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA)’s court case over South Africa’s cigarette ban has been dismissed by the North Gauteng High Court.

FITA confirmed to MyBroadband that the court dismissed the organisation’s case, which argued that the banning of the sale of cigarettes is irrational.

In the case which was heard earlier this month, the government argued that smoking could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases and even death.

FITA argued that this is not an issue which is limited to cigarettes.

The judgement was emailed to the government and FITA today, and the organisation told MyBroadband that it was still preparing a statement in response to the court’s decision.

Pretoria News chief report Zelda Venter tweeted images of the judgement, which stated that Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was justified in stating that the restriction on the sale of tobacco products was necessary.

“In our view, the necessity requirement is met once it is shown that there is a rational connection between the ban on tobacco sales and curbing the scourge of the COVID-19 virus in an attempt to prevent a strain on the country’s healthcare facilities, a finding which we have already made,” the judgement stated.

“We are persuaded by the Minister’s submission that FITA’s argument is misconceived as it ignores the context under which the regulations were promulgated.”

Argument against smoking ban

In its argument against the government’s ban on the sale of tobacco products, FITA previously said that the government’s implementation of the restrictions was arbitrary and illogical.

“One of the first issues that we find difficult with the government’s stance is the arbitrary nature in which these regulations are implemented,” FITA said.

“If we go into the depths of the legal argument it is quite baffling as they state in their own papers, and even in some of the medical reports that they rely on, that there is no link between smoking and COVID-19.”

“We accept that there is harm that is suffered by one’s lungs especially if they are a long-term smoker, but that cannot be undone by a cessation of six weeks.”

This also follows after British American Tobacco (BATSA) noted that its own court hearing on the prohibition on the sale of tobacco products will be pushed out by a further six weeks.

BATSA said it received communication on Friday 26 June that the application being brought by it and others against the ban has now been listed for 5 and 6 August.

The company described the decision not to consider an urgent application to lift the national ban on the sale of tobacco as “inexplicable” and “worrying”.

“This is why all sides agreed that the hearing should be scheduled for Tuesday, next week, and why all court papers had been filed by Wednesday 24 June,” BATSA said.

Now read: “Worrying” delay for South Africa cigarette ban court case

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Court dismisses case against South Africa’s smoking ban