The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has on Friday dismissed with costs appeal from the Fair-Trade Tobacco Association (FITA), compelling government to lift the ban on the sale of cigarette.
FITA sought to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal, the judgement and order handed down by the high court on June 26, 200
The court turned down the application and filed litigation costs, including the expense of recruiting three legal counselors.
The court argued that FITA’s actions were not in the public interest, adding that the association was acting on behalf of its members, who sell tobacco products, and had a major interest in ensuring the success of the application.
In its judgment, the court argued that in the face of a global pandemic killing hundreds of thousands of people around the world, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma acted to carry out a constitutional mandate to save lives and offer proper medical services.
The court believed that Minister Dlamini-Zuma has shown that the medical literature she relies on has laid a solid foundation for implementing the ban, saving lives and preventing pressure on the country’s medical system.
The argument made by FITA speaks to the reasonableness of the ban imposed by Dlamini-Zuma.
FITA believes that the fact that smokers can still get and make sure a continuous supply of cigarettes and tobacco products shows that the ban is invalid and has undermined the rationality of the ban.
The court said this argument ignores the fact that ensuring the complete stop of the supply of cigarettes has never been Minister Dlamini-Zuma’s goal.
When Minister imposed the ban, she tried to contain the virus, which could save lives and reduce the pressure on the healthcare system.”
As the verdict points out, “The Minister’s goal is not to make sure that every smoker in south Africa stops smoking. Her goal is to curb the spread of the virus and relieve the pressure on the already strained medical system. Implementing the ban is only for her to achieve this goal.”
FITA further countered that the factual question here is whether there is evidence that stopping the sale of tobacco products for a limited time will affect the fight against the spread of the virus.
“Ensuring that every smoker stops smoking is not the goal. The goal is to make sure that it can control the virus and save lives.”
In view of the lack of any evidence to support its argument that tobacco products sold on the illegal market contain harmful substances and additives, the court argued that FITA’s statement does not attract court’s decision.