Cigarette sales stay banned: High Court ruling

The Gauteng High Court has dismissed the case brought by fair trade association Fita to try and lift the ban on the sale of cigarettes in the country.

The group confirmed the ruling on Friday (26 June), adding that it would issue a public statement on the matter at a later time.

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 was in place to protect the health of South African citizens and would encourage addicts to quit.

While government 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.

According to the courts, however, Fita had failed to convince the judges of its case.

Specifically, the 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 bringing the case ignored the context in which the ban was put in place – an unprecedented global pandemic, which required swift response from government.

The case was dismissed with costs.

Another battle looms

With the Fita case failing to get the ban overturned, attention now falls to another court case being brought by British American Tobacco against the ban.

The difference in the BAT case is that the group is challenging the constitutionality of the ban, rather than the rationality.

In this case, BAT is arguing that the ban is violating the business’ right to trade, and is having a devastating impact on supply chains and thousands of people employed in the industry.

The case was due to be heard on 30 June, but the company says it has received communication that government has delayed the hearing until August.

The nationwide tobacco sales ban has been in place since the country went into lockdown in March.

Read: South Africa’s cigarette sales ban case is ‘inexplicably’ being pushed back to August: British American Tobacco

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Cigarette sales stay banned: High Court ruling