- The Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed an attempt to reverse a ruling that the cigarette ban was unlawful
- Co-operative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma approached the court to fight the ruling but lost
- The SCA ruled that the ban on cigarettes was illegal, unnecessary and affected 11 million smokers in SA
BLOEMFONTEIN - The Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed the Minister of Co-operative Governance Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa's attempt to reverse a high court’s ruling that the cigarette ban was unlawful.
The ruling was published on Tuesday 14 June and said that the cigarette ban during the 2020 hard lockdown did nothing to help reduce Covid-19 but rather interfered with the 11 million smokers in the country.
Government argued that the ban was legal and effective in reducing Covid-19 complications, however, the SCA ruled that smokers who could not enjoy “daily pleasures” were negatively impacted emotionally. According to Business Insider, Dlamini Zuma argued that smoking cigarettes was not banned, just their sale was.
The court fought back the claim saying the minister clearly indicated that she wanted people to stop smoking and sharing lit cigarettes. However, most smokers turned to purchase illegal cigarettes during the lockdown and the court ruled that Dlamini Zuma’s desired outcome was not met.
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The court also ruled that more educational campaigns regarding smoking could have been implemented, like those about social distancing and sanitising. Dlamini Zuma's reference to the World Health Organisation’s recommendations that people should stop smoking was also dismissed. The court ruled that WHO did not recommend banning cigarettes.
The SCA ruled that the ban on cigarettes was illegal and unnecessary. Tax Justice SA's Yusuf Abrambjee said during an interview with Newzroom Afrika that the illicit trade of cigarettes in the country has grown out of control due to the ban.
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SA reacts to ruling
South Africans weighed in on the ban against smoking and the harm that it caused in the country:
Keith Richard Mears said:
“She and minister Cele were simply pushing their own personal agendas under the guise of covid 19 regulations, it is one of the worst, although not uncommon, abuses of ministerial power, especially given the allegations of personal enrichment surrounding both the tobacco and alcohol bans.”
Alzera Araujo wrote:
“Yes, it is time heads roll for bad decisions that harm our country, these ministers get paid top dollar to do a job and they are facing dismally.”
Germaine van Rensburg commented:
“She must pay out of her own pocket all the legal costs, not the taxpayer.”
Joas Shilako posted:
“She banned the tobacco just after the President announced it was not banned, I still remember it was her word against the President and even the public kept asking themselves if Ramaphosa was still the President.”
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Vasilis Karvelas wrote:
“She got her failed son Edward a slot in the tobacco industry. We all know this.”
Greg Reading added:
“I quit because I refused to support the people who made a fortune on the black market. Was that question asked...no well if it was the ban would have made total sense.”
FITA responds to the government appealing possible tobacco ban
In a related matter, Briefly News also reported the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) has released a press statement responding to the South African government's appeal. The government is appealing a High Court ruling which found a cigarette ban unnecessary. The association is concerned about the possibility of the government banning tobacco products once again. South Africa went into a level 3 lockdown after President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation 28 December 2020 and a number of citizens are concerned.
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Source: Briefly News