The South African government appears to have undermined some of its own argument for the cigarette ban in its response to the court challenge brought by British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA).

BATSA will argue that the ban on selling cigarettes and tobacco products is unconstitutional in the Western Cape High Court next month. The government has responded to this challenge through a recently released document.

According to News24, in the 251-page response to the court challenge by BATSA, the government cites multiple studies, one of which effectively found that a low percentage of smokers suffer severe COVID-19 symptoms.

“Zhang et al conclude that ‘the outcome of SARS-CoV-2 infection in smokers may be more severe’, even though smoking populations were less likely to be infected,” said the government in its response.

The government used this study to show that smokers are badly affected once infected, therefore considering this a justification for the continued ban on cigarettes.

While this does seem to overall support their claim that smokers might suffer severe symptoms, it seems the study’s findings that smokers are actually less likely to be infected will help BATSA’s argument, according to News24.

Another aspect of the response which does not help the government’s cause is their explanation that research has shown those who smoke have been more likely to interact with someone outside of their home, because they are still buying cigarettes illegally.

This is not surprising as purchasing illegal cigarettes requires coming into contact with the supplier, who is not regulated by hygiene standards like supermarkets and shops are required to do.

Also read: Study shows smoking regulations are failing

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