The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) says it plans to take legal action against the government over the ban on the sale of cigarettes.
The decision was made after Minister Nkosazana-Dlamini-Zuma’s announcement on Wednesday evening. Dlamini-Zuma announced that the sale of cigarettes would not be allowed under level 4 restrictions of the lockdown.
Her announcement comes a week after President Cyril Ramaphosa said exactly the opposite, that cigarettes will go on sale again.
“We are consulting with our legal team on a way forward. We are going to court. We are making plans to prepare our legal challenge,” Fita chairperson, Sinenhanhla Mnguni, told SA FM on Thursday morning.
“Illicit cigarettes are coming into the country through our borders. Government is losing billions in what could have been used in the fiscus. The illicit traders are gaining momentum,” he said.
He continued to say that people should be able to choose whether or not they wanted to smoke.
“We believe there was foundation to the president’s statement. The U-turn is concerning,” he said.
Last week Fita withdrew their legal challenge after the president’s announcement that the sale of cigarettes would be permitted.
At the time, Mnguni said that the president’s announcement, together with tax relief extended to cigarette manufacturers by finance minister Tito Mboweni, “are steps in the right direction by government in mitigating the damaging effects of the lockdown period”.
While the association does not dispute the dangers of smoking, Mnguni said the lockdown regulations have not stopped people from smoking.