In response to a parliamentary question from the DA, Cyril Ramaphosa said it was not yet certain when the smoking ban would be lifted. He also could not indicate the scientific reasons for the extension of the ban.
“It is impossible at this stage to determine when the ban on the sale of tobacco products will be lifted,” said Ramaphosa’s answer to the DA’s question on what date the president foresees that the ban will be lifted.
Dean Macpherson, the DA’s shadow minister of trade and industry, now says that answer contradicts Jackson Mthembu, the presidency’s answer, that the ban on level 2 of seclusion will be lifted.
The DA also asked Ramaphosa what empirical data the National Board of Governors relied on in its decision on the overall ban on the sale of tobacco products in isolation to curb the spread of Covid-19, as well as to extend the ban.
On this, Ramaphosa said the decision was made after presentations by members of the public, as well as “relevant medical literature on the effects of smoking on people’s health” were carefully studied. “Following my initial announcement on April 23 that the sale of tobacco products would be allowed under Level 4 of seclusion, submissions were made by various organizations and people, and the government sought further advice on the matter,” Ramaphosa’s response states.
It was previously reported that there were a mere 454 submissions against the lifting of the smoking ban, compared to the 2,000 submissions the government initially referred to in defense of the decision.
“Ramaphosa’s failure to provide proper evidence is a clear indication that there was in fact no empirical evidence for the ban,” Macpherson says.
“Obviously, the ban has nothing to do with the effects of smoking on people’s health, but everything with the will and vices of few. [Nkosazana] Dlamini-Zuma and those in the illegal trade who benefit from such a ban, ”he says.
He says the government should stop misleading people about the so-called reasons for the smoking ban.