The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) was waiting late Tuesday afternoon for the government’s official reasons for its ban on the sale of tobacco products.
“All we know at this stage is that 24 documents are believed to be on the way,” says Sitainehla Mnguni, president of Fita.
The government had until Tuesday to announce its record of decision making and reasons for the previous turnaround on cigarette sales under Level 4 of the state of restriction. Should he receive it in time, by Friday, Fita will submit additional statements to the Pretoria High Court. The government then has until June 3 to submit answering statements to the court. The parties will ask the Gauteng Deputy Judge President to put the matter on the court roll for the week of June 9.
Fita appeals to the court because the government still prohibits cigarette sales under level 3 of the restriction, while liquor sales will be allowed. The organization says it was “stunned” that the government still banned cigarette sales for health reasons, while it previously banned liquor sales as well, arguing that too many hospital beds will be occupied by patients due to alcohol-related incidents, Mnguni says.
Meanwhile, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the minister responsible for the government’s implementation of the Covid 19 measures, said Tuesday on an online session that the National Council of Provinces (NRP) does not have much to say about the cigarette ban.
She did say, however, that anyone who commits a crime, such as with the illegal sale of cigarettes, will be arrested.
According to Dlamini-Zuma, the government’s legal representatives will explain in court what the relationship between Covid-19 and smoking is.
“We also know that up to five people in townships share one cigarette among them and thus expose them to Covid-19. I will leave the issue there because much more will be said in court, ”the minister said.
“I would like to mention that the coronavirus is a new virus that attacks the lungs. We have heard from China and America that people who smoke have lung problems. If they get the disease, they will get it worse than non-smokers. That means they will have to breathe with the help of breathing apparatus. “