The Pretoria High Court last week said it would hear the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association’s (Fita) application on Wednesday after its case over the continued ban on the sale of tobacco products was rejected.
All judges on 26 June dismissed the case against the ban with costs. The ban was extended indefinitely by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister for Cooperative Governance.
Health Minister Mkhize said on Monday that there is no answer as to whether the ban on the sale of cigarettes has any impact on the spread of the virus. He says he will ask experts in the health department about this and give an answer later.
Professor Salim Abdool Karim, a leading epidemiologist and the government’s chief technical advisor on the COVID-19 pandemic, says that the impact of tobacco on the crisis is outside his remit.
The two tobacco companies dragging the government to court are not surprised that Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa said nothing on Sunday night about the tobacco ban when he announced amended restriction regulations.
The main focus was on the overall ban on the purchase and sale of liquor imposed under the amended regulations for level 3 of the state of restraint. When the level 3 regulations were announced at the end of May, the measures were relaxed, which included, among other things, liquor stores being able to sell liquor from Monday to Thursday.
Ramaphosa said Sunday night that the ban, which was effective immediately, was imposed because of the increase in alcohol-related medical incidents while pressure on hospitals and staff increased due to the dramatic increase in Covid-19 cases.
He did not say a word about the sale of tobacco and tobacco-related products.
There are currently two pending cases in the High Court in Cape Town and in Pretoria.