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Govt: Tobacco ban may have eased burden on health system

Advocate Marumo Moerane went before the Pretoria High Court on Wednesday to defend government’s decision to ban the sale of cigarettes under level four of the national lockdown.

Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG - Lawyers representing the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister said there was a reasonable possibility that banning the sale of cigarettes had assisted in preventing the overburdening of the health system due to COVID-19.

Advocate Marumo Moerane went before the Pretoria High Court on Wednesday to defend government’s decision to ban the sale of cigarettes under level four of the national lockdown.

The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) applied to the court seeking to have the regulation declared invalid and unlawful.

Moerane said although the ban on the sale of tobacco products had not completely restricted the availability of cigarettes, it had reduced its access.

Fita argued that the prohibition posed a health risk to smokers who have had to resort to unregulated cigarettes in the illicit market.

Questioning the rationality of the regulation, Judge President Dunstan Mlambo asked Moerane why given the fact that government could not ban smoking and was aware that the decision was pushing people to the illicit market, the government went ahead anyway.

“The State has a duty to take big steps to prevent the spread of the disease and to reduce the burden on the health system,” Moerane explained.

Judgment in the matter has been reserved.