BATSA (British American Tobacco SA) together with other cigarette producers and tobacco farmers challenged Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Western Cape High Court again on Thursday over the cigarette sale ban, which was instated at the start of the coronavirus lockdown in April.
BATSA argued on Wednesday that any benefit achieved by the continued ban on tobacco sales would by far outweigh the damage it has caused to date.
The Constitutional rights of tobacconists and tobacco farmers are being violated by the ban, which is putting the entire tobacco value chain was at risk.
In total R38 million is lost on tax revenue daily in excise duties. On top of that there are numerous job losses across the value chain, which need to be taken into account as well.
The minister has indicated that the aim of the ban is to stop people from smoking so that they do not get Covid-19 in a more severe form. Although, according to court documents, just 10% – 15% of the country’s smokers will likely quit due to the ban because of the high price of illicit cigarettes.
BATSA’s legal team questioned government’s medical basis for the ban, saying that there is no question about smoking being harmful to health, the actual question is whether there is an association between smoking and the contraction of a more severe form of Covid-19.