Pretoria High Court to hear Fita’s bid against ban on cigarette sale

Fita has questioned the national coronavirus command council’s authority to make the decision which it deems as unconstitutional and invalid.

FILE: The sale of tobacco products has been prohibited since the national lockdown was enforced in March. Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG – The Pretoria High Court will on Tuesday morning hear an application by the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) against government’s decision to ban the sale of cigarettes under lockdown levels four and three.

Fita has questioned the national coronavirus command council’s authority to make the decision, which it deemed as unconstitutional and invalid.

The sale of tobacco products has been prohibited since the national lockdown was enforced in March.

This hearing comes shortly after the same court recently found that some of governments regulations governing the restrictions imposed under levels four and three of the lockdown were unconstitutional and invalid.

Fita will argue that the decision to ban the sale of the products has had a detrimental impact on smokers with experts lined up to make this case just as the State has also employed the same strategy to prove that smoking during the COVID-19 pandemic is risky.

The organisation is further supported by thousands of correspondences by South Africans who oppose the restriction based on a variety of reasons with the overriding feeling that government had gone too far in dictating their personal choices.

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The economic impact of the decision will also come up with Fita arguing that many law compliant businesses in the tobacco products value chain have suffered, including the South African economy while the illicit market thrived during the lockdown.

In her initial affidavit, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – who is also a respondent in the matter – stated that Cabinet has a duty as contained in the Constitution to ensure that people’s lives are preserved and this forms part of that mandate.

She has also presented the court with medical research by the World Health Organisation among other bodies showing that smokers are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

The president is also cited as a respondent.

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