Smokers have been dealt a heavy blow as the North Gauteng High Court dismissed the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association’s (FITA) application to lift the ban on cigarette sales. The ruling was made on Friday, June 26.
FITA appealed to the court to declare the ban on tobacco products unlawful and for cigarettes to be deemed essential on the basis that the substance is addictive.
“The application by Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association is dismissed,” was the court’s answer. “Many products and services were prohibited during the lockdown in so far as they were defined as non-essential. Many industries were restricted as a goal of curbing and managing the pandemic.”
Government had opposed the court application by relaying the negative health implications that come with smoking.
“Differential or preferential treatment for tobacco products and/or the tobacco industry, therefore, cannot be countenanced, as tobacco products were simply not considered to be essential. FITA’s argument that cigarettes ought to have been considered ‘essential’ because they are addictive has no merit.
“The fact that a substance is addictive does not render it essential. We therefore find no basis on which to interpret the Level 5 regulations as permitting the sale of tobacco products.”
British American Tobacco SA (BATSA) is also challenging the ban in court, and a date for the matter has been set for August.