Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, stated in a comprehensive statement the government’s reasons for the continued ban on the sale of tobacco products.
The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita SA) dragged the state to court over the decision. On May 4, Fita SA filed a court application to force the government to lift the ban on the sale of cigarettes and asked the court to compel the government to provide him with reasons why the ban continued.
Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week that the ban will now continue at coronavirus level 3, after the initial expectation was that it would be lifted.
In her statement, Dlamini Zuma says the use of tobacco products leads to respiratory illnesses in smokers and those exposed to secondary smoking – and that is the case even without Covid-19.
She argues that according to new research, Covid-19 smokers outperform non-smokers, are more admitted to high-care units, require more ventilators, and their death rate is higher than that of non-smokers.
“It’s going to put pressure on limited healthcare resources,” she argues.
The minister also argues that the use of tobacco products increases the behavioral risks associated with the new viral disease. People share according to her products (and therefore spit) and are less likely to maintain a social distance.
“Given the short- and long-term benefits of quitting smoking, it was decided that a temporary ban on the sale of tobacco products would likely reduce the risks associated with Covid-19 and the severity of the disease.”
The minister said based on the experience of level 5 of the seclusion regulations, it was considered likely that a continued ban would be effective in reducing the number of people who have access to such products.