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Fita back in court to appeal dismissal of tobacco case against govt

Last month, Fita lost its application to the court, which argued that tobacco products should be considered essential goods.

Picture: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) will argue on Wednesday morning why the Pretoria High Court should grant it leave to appeal the dismissal of its case against government’s decision to prohibit the sale tobacco products during the lockdown.

Last month, Fita lost its application to the court, which argued that tobacco products should be considered essential goods.

The products have not been allowed to be sold since level five of the lockdown over 100 days ago.

Fita and the government will once again go head-to-head in the Pretoria High Court this morning, with the former arguing that the court erred in its initial findings which found in favour of the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The government argued that the public health system would crumble should smokers be allowed access to the products during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that even one percent of the country’s eight million smokers would take away much-needed resources meant to save the lives of COVID-19 patients.

Fita describes the appeal as one of public importance, saying that there are reasonable prospects of success in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Among other contentions, the association states as an error the court’s consideration of whether smoking is hazardous to health or whether smokers are more likely to contract COVID-19 and would require intensive medical treatment.

It said that there was no evidence supporting this.

Central to its argument is that the court was wrong to find that tobacco products are not necessary for basic functionality.

Another matter pertaining to the ban on the sale of cigarettes will be heard in the Western Cape High Court next month.

WATCH: Fita presents arguments for appeal against case dismissal

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