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Dlamini-Zuma’s reasons for tobacco sales ban ‘all over the place’, court hears

Lawyers representing Fita on Wednesday attacked the government through Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s reasoning for prohibiting the sale of tobacco products during the lockdown.

FILE: Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in Pretoria on 28 May 2020. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) on Wednesday described Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s response to its application to have the tobacco products sales ban lifted as dismissive and arrogant.

Lawyers representing Fita in the matter currently before the full bench of the High Court in Pretoria attacked the government through the minister’s reasoning for prohibiting the sale of the products during the lockdown.

Dlamini-Zuma argued in her submissions to the High Court that the temporary ban would help smokers quit the habit, and also disrupt the illicit cigarette market, which drained billions from the State’s revenue annually.

Arnold Subel for Fita described that argument as “all over the place”, telling the court that no consideration was given to the health effects of tobacco withdrawal.

He said that it was remarkable that the minister thought this move was necessary given that no other country except for Botswana had effected such laws under the COVID-19 lockdown.

Going after Dlamini-Zuma’s reliance on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) research on the matter, Subel said even the body was uncertain of the health effects of smoking during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s only one explanation because smoking could increase the burden on the health service, but when we read the WHO material, it doesn’t say that,” he said.

Subel added that Dlamini-Zuma’s defence was all over the place, explaining that the State could not say it was not stopping people from smoking while the products could not be sold.

WATCH: High Court in Pretoria hears case on tobacco sales ban

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