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British American Tobacco argues in court why cigarette sale ban must be scrapped

The gist of its argument is: the ban is sinking the country's entire tobacco industry, which means jobs are at risk and tax revenue is being dealt a blow.

Image:123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - British American Tobacco SA is arguing its case in the Western Cape High Court as to why the ban on tobacco products sales should be scrapped.

The gist of its argument is: the ban is sinking the country's entire tobacco industry, which means jobs are at risk and tax revenue is being dealt a blow.

The bid to have the ban overturned is being spearheaded by the company, which is also representing the interests of tobacco farmers, vendors and consumers.

Government explains the ban has taken the strain off the health system during the country's response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier, attorney for the tobacco industry, Webber Wentzel's Mike Evans said the costs to the nation, as a whole, outweigh the benefits.

“So, what the minister has done is say she is saving 16 beds but the downside of that is this huge boost to illicit trade, the destruction of the industry that is being deprived of R4 billion as a result of the ban and non-selling of cigarettes because the excise duty is not being paid. And consumers have been deprived of their right to smoke and vape. Now those are all the consequences of the ban for an absolutely minimal gain.”

At the same time, British American Tobacco has argued that adults should be allowed to make wrong decisions.

BAT has stressed that its case is different to the challenge from the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita).

Lawyer Alfred Cockrell said that the ban violated consumers' right to dignity.

“The right to dignity means that people are treated with respect in order to make their own decisions. They may sometimes make the wrong decisions, but the right to dignity means they can make those decisions for themselves.”

He also said that it infringed on the right to privacy and to bodily and psychological integrity.

“That is the right of adults to make regarding how they want to maintain their bodily psychology and how they decide to handle stress. That is a decision for them to make.”

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