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British American Tobacco Scraps Court Battle Over Cigarette Ban

British American Tobacco SA (BATSA) has decided to scrap its intention to take the South African government to court over cigarette ban.

An earlier decision by the government to allow the sale of cigarettes during the COVID-19 lockdown was rescinded after the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) consulted medical experts and various role-players.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said this on Monday after sections of society implied that Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had arbitrarily gazetted the ban.

Ramaphosa announced that the sale of tobacco products would be allowed when the country moved to Level 4 of the nationwide lockdown. Level 4 of the lockdown, aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, began on Friday, 1 May.

BATSA said on Wednesday that it was no longer taking its fight to court.

However, the company said that at this stage it was willing to work with the government to find solutions rather than pursue legal action.

“Having considered the response from the government and noting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s public statement of Monday, May 4, as a business, we have taken the decision not to pursue legal action at this stage but, instead, to pursue further discussions with the government on the formulation and application of the regulations under the Covid-19 lockdown,” said BATSA.

“We are convinced that by working together we can find a better solution that works for all South Africans and removes the threat of criminal sanction from 11-million tobacco consumers in the country.”

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