Govt given deadline to respond to FITA request to lift ban on cigarettes sales

Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) is calling for the distribution and sale of cigarettes to resume at retail stores, spaza shops, and filling stations.

Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG - The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) has given government until Tuesday to respond to its request to lift the embargo on cigarettes sales.

The association is calling for the distribution and sale of cigarettes to resume at retail stores, spaza shops, and filling stations. However, government re-affirmed that the ban of certain items would remain in place throughout the lockdown.

Certain items were temporarily banned in the country to assist government in curbing the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa turned down the request by the Gauteng Liquor Forum to allow the sale of alcohol.

The FITA is now pursuing legal action should the government fail to drop the restriction on cigarettes.

"The industry contributes so much to the economy and employs many South Africans whose livelihoods are now at stake," said the association’s Sinenhlanhla Mnguni.

"According to our interpretation and the interpretation of the few senior councils whose opinions we sought, stated that the regulation didn’t, in fact, exclude or prohibit the sale of cigarettes. That is one of the arguments we are advancing to government in conjunction with a few other factors which were put into place in sense deeming the ban sale of cigarettes unconstitutional," he added.

Mnguni said while he fully supported the government’s lockdown measures, the tobacco industry continued to suffer financially with illicit trading of cigarettes on the rise.

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