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Fita To Continue Tobacco Legal Battle

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced sweeping amendments to lockdown regulations on Saturday night, including a lift on the ban on tobacco and alcohol sales.

But the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association said it would continue with its appeal to challenge the legitimacy of the original ban. The association contends that the ban on cigarette sales was unlawful because it failed to meet the legal requirements of rationality and necessity.

The association was granted leave to appeal a previous ruling, which dismissed its bid to have the contentious overturned.

FITA has argued that the matter is urgent and in the public interest, as it pertains to the extent of the powers a minister can exercise under the Disaster Management Act. It said the prohibition was a case of executive overreach.

The association’s chair said Sinenhlanhla Mnguni: “We are of the firm view that even under lockdown level 5, cigarettes should have been sold. The regulations did not exclude the sale of tobacco products. That is where we made our argument that these should have been considered among basic goods.”

Fita said it would wait on the amended regulations to be gazetted and would be watching the situation unfold with cautious optimism.