- The COGTA Minister has continued to stress the medical evidence that supports the tobacco ban
- Dr Dlamini-Zuma, who is facing multiple legal battles over the tobacco ban, said the ban needed to be weighed against the healthcare system
- The minister says the ban is supported by various organisations such as the National Council Against Smoking
Consistently under-fire Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has maintained her unwavering stance on the cigarette ban.
Dlamini-Zuma, who is due in court next week Tuesday and Wednesday alongside President Cyril Ramaphosa, also faces contempt of court charges after missing the Wednesday deadline to file a response.
The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) that is challenging the rationality of the tobacco ban had given the minister until Wednesday to file a response to their case due to be heard on the 8 and 9 of June.
Dlamini-Zuma has commented and said the tobacco ban needed to be weighed against the healthcare costs associated with treating smokers, with or without the Covid-19 virus. Dlamini-Zuma added that the vulnerable are the hardest-hit by the virus.
The minister also argued that there was evidence that many smokers had quit as a result of the ban which meant that the government was justified in its decision to ban tobacco.
The minister added that she has never claimed the medical research she previously relied on to justify the cigarette ban was "absolutely conclusive" but she said available evidence shows that smokers have a higher risk of negative Covid-19 risks.
Dlamini-Zuma also criticised FITA for amending its original legal challenge to the Level 4 cigarette ban to include include the ban imposed under Level 3.
She said the matter was "irregular" and amounted to FITA seeking to "review an entirely new decision” without the court having access to the new material that may have informed that decision.
Dlamini-Zuma has maintained that all her decisions on the tobacco ban have been informed by medical research. She added that:
"Additional views were canvassed from the SA medical fraternity."
Dlamini-Zuma added that the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that “smokers were more likely to develop severe disease with Covid-19, compared to non-smokers".
As the minister is facing a myriad of legal battles over the tobacco ban, she reiterated that the ban is supported by “various organisations within the SA medical fraternity” including the National Council Against Smoking, the SA Thoracic Society, the College of Public Health Medicine and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of SA.
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