British American Tobacco SA rejoins legal battle against cigarette ban

British American Tobacco SA rejoins legal battle against cigarette ban

- BATSA says it is taking the government to court over the continued ban on the sale of cigarettes during lockdown Level 3

- South Africa will be moving to lockdown Level 3 on 1 June, allowing for the sale of alcohol but not tobacco

- BATSA is joining a long list of organisations in legal disputes with the government over the sale of cigarettes

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British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) announced on Friday that it was proceeding with urgent legal action against the government to challenge its decision to continue the ban on tobacco sales during Alert Level 3 of the lockdown.

In his last address, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would be moving from alert Level 4 to 3 on 1 June. Alert Level 3 allows for the sale of alcohol but tobacco sales remain banned.

BATSA is the latest in a long list of organisations who have taken the government to court over the tobacco ban. Over the past few weeks, the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) has been leading the fight against the government and recently, AfriForum instigated action.

In the initial stages of the tobacco ban, BATSA had issued a lawsuit against the government; however, smokers were left disappointed after the organisation dropped its lawsuit after engagements with government. reported that AfriForum has joined the tobacco battle, arguing that proof doesn't support the ban.

BATSA has rejoined the fight and reported that it has garnered support from Japan Tobacco International (JTI). Johnny Moloto, Head of External Affairs at BATSA, confirmed that the organisation has instituted legal action aimed at overturning the ban on tobacco sales during Level 3.

READ ALSO: Level 3: Smoking still banned, alcohol and fast food delivery allowed

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has come under fire during the past few weeks but has remained resilient in her stance on the sale of tobacco. She has reiterated that the ban on the sale of cigarettes is for the protection of the public as the Covid-19 threats poses a greater health risk to smokers.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma continues to defend her stance on the cigarette ban and earlier said:

"People who smoke do have problems with lungs, as we know, [and] if they do get the infection, they are more likely than the non-smokers to get a more serious disease"

The minister continued to say that smoking not only increases the risk of catching the virus but also contracting a more serious form of the virus. However, organisations and individuals unsatisfied with the government's reasons for the ban continue to fight the decision. FITA will have its case heard on 9 and 10 June.

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