Government sticks to its guns over reasons for tobacco ban

Government has asked for leave to appeal the Western Cape High Court decision which found that the contentious ban was unconstitutional.

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JOHANNESBURG - The government is sticking to its reasoning for banning the sale of tobacco products last year, insisting in court papers that the temporary action was in the best interests of South Africans.

It’s asked for leave to appeal the Western Cape High Court decision which found that the contentious ban was unconstitutional.

The appeal by government has raised concerns among tobacco industry bodies that the government could be planning to invoke the regulation once more in future as lockdown restrictions are tightened considering the increased cases of COVID-19 infections.

Among the arguments advanced in the appeal application is that the court was not consistent in its approach to expert evidence.

Government said while the court accepted the evidence of experts by the applicants - despite their lack of requisite qualifications - less weight was placed on evidence provided by their specialists.

Government also questioned that the ban on the sale of the products infringes smokers’ and vapers’ rights to bodily and psychological integrity, including security and control over their bodies.

It stated that this is irreconcilable with the fact that Regulation 45 does not prohibit the use of the products but only the sale thereof.

However, during the five months when the products could not be sold, many smokers were unable to access these, with some resorting to the underground markets, accessing cigarettes at over inflated prices.

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