- The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) is going to the courts to lift the ban on cigarette sales
- They say that the industry cannot survive the lockdown without significant negative consequences
- They also believe that the sale of cigarettes will help the economy
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The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) has stated that it will be pursuing legal action to make cigarettes available to the public during lockdown. The organisation said that it has received a lot of requests to what their next steps would be regarding the ban on cigarettes.
Briefly.co.za learned that Sinenhlanhla Mnguni, chairman of FITA, said that they had spoken to their legal department and have decided to approach the courts.
“The uncertainty around the current restrictions and whether or not the lockdown period would be extended beyond the current end date left us with little choice but to take such a drastic step. We tried long and hard to engage with government on this issue but our pleas rather unfortunately fell on deaf ears,” Mnguni said.
He said that they would like the government to allow the sale of cigarettes at retails stores, spaza shops and petrol stations. Their argument is that citizens are allowed to frequent these stores to buy essentials according to Times Live.
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“This would give the economy a much-needed boost and avoid a situation where our citizens, out of desperation, contravene the regulations of the lockdown en masse,” Mnguni's statement read.
He said that the restrictions are damaging the industry and that the stakeholders cannot survive much longer with the ban in place.
Mnguni warned that citizens would take the law into their own hands to procure cigarettes.
“We are also seeing the illicit trade flourish whilst the legitimate tobacco industry is prevented from participating."
“The long and short of this all is that the regulations have not stopped people from buying cigarettes during the lockdown period. People are sourcing cigarettes and other goods from underground markets to the detriment of the fiscus,” he said.
Briefly.co.za earlier reported that the ban on cigarettes and alcohol has received support from the World Health Organisation itself, the global leader of the fight against the virus. In a statement on the issue, the entity commented that alcohol consumption can exacerbate health vulnerability, risk-taking behaviours, mental health issues and violence.
The body encouraged governments around the world to impose restrictions and to avoid relaxing them:
"Existing rules and regulations to protect health and reduce harm caused by alcohol, such as restricting access, should be upheld and even reinforced during the Covid-19 pandemic and emergency situations; while any relaxation of regulations or their enforcement should be avoided."
The WHO revealed that a dangerous myth concerning the consumption of alcohol has been doing the rounds:
"Fear and misinformation have generated a dangerous myth that consuming high-strength alcohol can kill the Covid-19 virus. It does not. Consuming any alcohol poses health risks, but consuming high-strength ethyl alcohol (ethanol), particularly if it has been adulterated with methanol, can result in severe health consequences, including death."
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