The decision to prohibit the sale of tobacco products, e-cigarettes and related products was taken after careful consideration, not only of the submissions received but also the relevant medical literature focusing on the effects of smoking, especially in the face of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 said President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“At this stage, it is difficult to determine when the ban on the sale of tobacco and
related products will be lifted,” said Ramaphosa.
“This will depend on such factors as the progression of the disease in South Africa, the readiness of our health systems and evolving knowledge on the nature and impact of the virus itself.”
Ramphosa was responding to a written parliamentary question from the DA.
The DA asked the President what empirical evidence the National Coronavirus Command Council relied on to collectively ban the sale of tobacco products during
the national lockdown and contradict the announcement he made on 23 April 2020 that the sale of tobacco products would be permitted during level 4.
The DA also asked the President on what date it envisaged a ban on the sale of tobacco products would be lifted.
The ban on the sale of cigarettes is expected to be heard tomorrow by a full bench of the Pretoria High Court.
British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) announced on Friday it is commencing urgent legal proceedings to challenge the government’s decision to extend the ban on tobacco sales during Level 3.
BATSA is supported in this action by Japan Tobacco International (JTI) as well as
groups and organisations representing the tobacco value chain across the country,
including consumers, tobacco farmers and retailers.
The company said in a statement it has made every effort to constructively engage with the government since the ban came into force, including making detailed submissions, along with other interested parties, to various ministers, as well as directly to the Presidency.
To date, no formal response has been received from the government, and BATSA
has also not been included in any of the government’s consultation processes so far.