It is cruel to force smokers to stop smoking altogether. Moreover, there is no evidence that the smoking ban has stopped South Africans from smoking.
The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita SA) argued in court on Wednesday to lift the ban on the sale of tobacco products. This case was heard in the Pretoria High Court.
On Wednesday, Fita SA said it was an “act of cruelty” to force smokers to cope without any cigarettes during the nationwide isolation.
Adv. Arnold Subel SC on behalf of Fita SA argued that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, showed absolute disregard for the emotional and physiological pressures that smokers face as a result of the ban on tobacco products. This is in the midst of an “already stressful” situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Subel further said that it is unrealistic to expect South Africans to suddenly quit smoking as a result of the ban on tobacco products.
According to Subel, the court need not try to ascertain whether there is scientific evidence that smokers have a greater chance of dying from Covid-19 than other patients, as Dlamini-Zuma failed to prove in her arguments that people stop smoking because of the ban.
“It might be an answer in her world to get people to quit smoking, but it is wishful thinking. To suggest in the real world that you are going to ban people from quitting smoking is completely far-fetched. The golden thread here is an irreversible fact that the ban on tobacco products will not stop supply, ”Arnold said.
Fita SA has now demanded that the ban be set aside. The organization also asked to see the minutes of the National Command Council meeting, during which it was decided to retain the ban after Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa explicitly announced that it would be lifted.
Dlamini-Zuma, however, kicked off, explaining that the command council is a cabinet structure and that its discussions are therefore classified.
The organization further argued that the government was insulting South Africans’ intelligence by arguing that they would light Covid-19 by sharing cigarettes with each other. “The same goes for cellphone sharing and the government didn’t say anything about it.”
The hearing continued Wednesday afternoon.