British American Tobacco said in a statement that they received a formal response to a letter sent on the 30th of April to relevant Ministers in the National Command Council.
According to the statement the company considered the response from the government and noting President Ramaphosa’s public statement of Monday May 4 and decided not to pursue legal action at this stage. The company says that they will instead pursue further discussions with government on the formulation and application of the regulations under the COVID-19 lockdown.
BATSA says the significant rise in the illicit trade of tobacco during the lockdown continues to be of great concern and threatens the livelihood of legitimate businesses to sustain themselves.
The company says that cigarettes should only be sold in established retail outlets where the government’s correct social distancing guidelines can be enforced. The the moment, smokers are putting themselves and their households at further risk of the virus by moving around in search of cigarettes being sold by illegal traders.
BATSA says they urge the government to consider an approach that will address their concerns while also ensuring legitimate businesses can contribute to the country’s economy and future growth. The illicit traders are the only beneficiaries of the ban on tobacco sales says BATSA.
BATSA reminded government that the company employs 1500 workers and continue to provide support to their local partners and their 8000 employees and 30,000 dependents in the tobacco value chain.