- There may be some hope on the horizon for smokers as the tobacco ban case gets a court date set
- FITA confirmed that their application will be heard next week by the Pretoria High Court
- FITA is appealing a ruling that has kept the sale of tobacco banned and hundreds of thousands of smokers across the country are hoping for relief
The High Court in Pretoria will next week hear an application by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) for leave to appeal a ruling that has kept cigarettes banned.
The matter has been set down for 15 July, FITA's chairman, Sinenhlanhla Mnguni, said.
On 26 June, a full bench of the High Court dismissed the challenge brought by FITA against the ban, which was extended indefinitely by Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in April, with costs.
Fin24 reported that they received a WhatsApp message from Mnguni saying:
"We’ve just received confirmation from the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria that our application for leave to appeal the ruling of 26 June 2020 dismissing our cigarette ban challenge will be heard on the 15th of July 2020"
FITA has asked for urgent leave to appeal directly to the Supreme Court of Appeal and is challenging last month's ruling in full, including the cost order.
IOL reported that FITA believes that the court erred in its interpretation of the threshold of necessity in the Disaster Management Act in terms of which the government declared a state of disaster in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lawyers for the minister argued that, based on the available scientific research, the government imposed the ban to prevent hospitals being overrun with smokers who presented with severe Covid-19 symptoms.
The tobacco ban has been a contentious issue and it is estimated that the ban has cost the economy billions of rands while also boosting the trade of illicit cigarettes.
Meanwhile, Briefly.co.za reported that a second challenge to the tobacco ban, brought by British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA), was supposed to be heard in June but had been postponed to early August.
BATSA was told that the court hearing on the prohibition on the sale of tobacco products would be pushed out by a further six weeks.
An agreement was initially reached with the state's lawyers, however, it was overturned in a later dramatic manner.
BATSA said they were busy liaising with the government to have the case, which is set for 6 or 7 August, to be moved to a closer date.
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