Tobacco giant opts out of challenging cigarette ban in court

Tobacco giant opts out of challenging cigarette ban in court

- British American Tobacco South Africa is the biggest company in the nation's cigarette market

- After indicating that they would challenge the current tobacco ban, it appears the giant has had a sudden change of heart

- The group has announced it will halt legal action over the state in relation to the restrictions

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British American Tobacco South Africa has revealed it won't be legally trying to legally strongarm the state into lifting the current bans.

The company had opted out of taking the matter to court, explaining in a statement that:

"We have taken the decision not to pursue legal action at this stage but, instead, to pursue further discussions with government on the formulation and application of the regulations under the Covid-19 lockdown."

This comes after the group received a response to the letter sent to the National Command Council, with BATSA saying it is "convinced that by working together we can find a better solution that works for all South Africans and removes the threat of criminal sanction from 11 million tobacco consumers in the country".

READ ALSO: Covid-19: President Ramaphosa denies hidden tobacco ban agenda

However, the company with a nearly 80% share in SA's cigarette market avoided revealing what the contents of the letter entailed.

But BATSA reiterated the view that illicit traders remain the sole beneficiaries of the current ban.

"Whilst BATSA supports the government in its mission to prevent the further spread of the virus, we believe it is vital that there is a renewed and stronger effort under Level Four to permanently close down the illegal supply lines of tobacco that have been established over the past number of weeks. Reopening the legal, taxed and regulated tobacco market must be part of the solution."

News24 reports that SA Revenue Service commissioner Edward Kieswetter had told Parliamentarians that the ban had done little to discourage the sale of cigarettes, prompting illegal sales to skyrocket. reported that President Cyril Ramaphosa had dismissed speculation that the government had an alternative agenda when it came to the ban.

This comes after Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was accused of having personal ties to black market traders after she announced the government's u-turn on Level 4 tobacco sales.

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