Cape Times

Court sees cig­a­rette ban go up in puff of smoke

- SIPHOKAZI VUSO South Africa News · Western Cape · Cape Town · South Africa · Africa · Cyril Ramaphosa · British American Tobacco · American Tobacco Company · Keith Scott · University of Cape Town

THERE'S been wide­spread wel­com­ing of the West­ern Cape High Court's find­ing that the im­posed to­bacco ban on the na­tion was in­con­sis­tent with the Con­sti­tu­tion.

The Depart­ment of Co-op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs (Cogta) has now said it would study and take guid­ance from the find­ing, which also found that the “no smok­ing” reg­u­la­tion was not nec­es­sary.

Bri­tish Amer­i­can To­bacco South Africa (Batsa) and oth­ers had taken Cogta, Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and the Na­tional Coro­n­avirus Com­mand Coun­cil to court in May over the ban on to­bacco prod­uct sales.

Cogta and the govern­ment had ar­gued that the ban was aimed at re­duc­ing the oc­cu­pa­tion of in­ten­sive care unit (ICU) beds by smok­ers, adding that if peo­ple didn't smoke they would likely not get Covid-19 in a se­vere form.

The SA Drug Pol­icy Ini­tia­tive (Sadpi) has been the lat­est to wel­come the ver­dict, say­ing the ban on the sale of cig­a­rettes dur­ing the coun­try's Covid-19 lock­down was not “based in law or sci­ence”.

The ini­tia­tive's Dr Keith Scott said they agreed with the court's rul­ing “whole­heart­edly”.

“The de­ci­sion was not based in law or sci­ence.

“In essence there was no proof that ban­ning cig­a­rettes will re­duce the load of sick peo­ple on hos­pi­tal ser­vices be­cause their ar­gu­ment was that long-term smok­ing does cause dis­ease or a weak­ened im­mune sys­tem. But smok­ing over a short pe­riod of time has not been shown to put peo­ple at high risk of get­ting Covid,” he said.

Cogta spokesper­son Lungi Mt­shali said the Cabi­net would study the judg­ment and the depart­ment would take guid­ance from it.

Adam van Wyn­gaar­den, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Smokey Treats, said the rul­ing was a step for­ward in the fight against state cap­ture and the il­licit trade.

“The ban – and the fear that it would re­turn – has made grow­ing a start-up eco-cig­a­rette com­pany even more chal­leng­ing than it ever had to be,” Van Wyn­gaar­den said.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent UCT study con­ducted by Pro­fes­sor Corné van Wal­beek, the di­rec­tor of Eco­nom­ics of Ex­cis­able Prod­ucts, and two col­leagues, Kirsten van der Zee and Sam Filby, “the cig­a­rette mar­ket has nor­malised af­ter the sales ban was lifted, but is not the same as be­fore”.

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