South African smokers can rest assured that the government won't be able to bring back the tobacco ban at whim. Briefly.co.za explores how a recent court settlement ensured that citizens will have ample warning before another prohibition.
The return of the tobacco ban won't be something the government will be able to spring on South Africans thanks to a recent settlement between the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association and the public representatives.
FITA chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni revealed that the legal battle over the lockdown ban has seen the parties involved reaching an agreement over the matter that will likely provide some relief to SA smokers.
Mnguni confirmed that negotiations between FITA and the Office of the State Attorney, which acted on behalf of COGTA Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa, have concluded.
These negotiations saw FITA managing to secure an agreement that prevents the ban from being reimposed at the drop of the hat. The settlement agreed upon is as follows:
1. That the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs undertakes that, should she seek to reinstate a temporary prohibition of the sale of tobacco and related products at any stage in the future, the aforementioned Minister will follow a public participation process.
2. Any invitation to or announcement of a consultation process will be issued publicly. FITA and any other interested parties would then be free to participate in that process. (This was not the case when the initial ban was implemented.)
3. FITA will withdraw its appeal and the parties will each pay their own costs in respect of the litigation in both the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal.
4. Any future decision regarding the prohibition of the sale of tobacco and related products, if any, shall be taken in accordance with the law and the requirements of legality.
Mnguni expressed gratitude for citizens who had supported the lengthy battle to lift the ban during lockdown after it was imposed in March:
"We trust the above to be in order and wish to thank all those who have supported our organisation and its fight to have the ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco-related products lifted."
Earlier, Briefly.co.za reported that citizens were anxious over the possibility of the ban, including the liquor prohibition, returning and this was made abundantly clear after a voice note prompted panic buying on Tuesday.
Citizens had rushed to liquor stores after an unknown source claimed that Ramaphosa would be announcing the return of the ban in an address which never took place.
The government has confirmed that the voice note was fake and that an investigation into the illicit spread of fake news relating to the Covid-19 pandemic has been launched.
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