British American Tobacco (BATSA) South Africa has said it will no longer pursue legal action against the South African Government to permit the sale of cigarettes.
BATSA is the country’s largest player in the cigarette market, and in the beginning of May, it described the government’s decision to ban the sale of tobacco products under Level 4 restrictions as ‘bizarre and irregular’.
“We have taken the decision not to pursue legal action at this stage but, instead, to pursue further discussions with government on the formulation and application of the regulations under the Covid-19 lockdown,” BATSA said in a statement.
According to BATSA, it had received a response to a letter it had sent to the National Command Centre at the end of April. The cigarette manufacturer believes that if it works together with government, the two can find a better solution that works for all South Africans and ‘removes the threat of criminal sanction from 11-million tobacco consumers in the country’.
The ban on the sale of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products was first put in place on March 26, on the day that South African entered a nationwide lockdown. This prohibition will continue under Level 4.
“Whilst BATSA supports the government in its mission to prevent the further spread of the virus, we believe it is vital that there is a renewed and stronger effort under Level Four to permanently close down the illegal supply lines of tobacco that have been established over the past number of weeks. Reopening the legal, taxed and regulated tobacco market must be part of the solution,” BATSA said.
According to Fin24, the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association will be heard in court next week in an attempt to compel the state to reintroduce the sale of tobacco products.