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By Citizen Reporter


Fita to file petition with Supreme Court after latest defeat

The organisation's application to appeal the dismissal of its challenge on the tobacco ban was rejected on Friday.

The Pretoria High Court on Friday rejected the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association’s (Fita) application to appeal the dismissal of its challenge on the ban of cigarette sales.

In its final attempt, Fita will now file a petition with the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on the matter according to the organisations’ chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni.

The high court ruled last month that Fita’s application, which was based on the fact that the products were necessary and essential goods, did not hold ground and dismissed the matter.

Fita argued that there was no “rationale” that proves that smoking during the Covid-19 pandemic causes strain to the health system.

ALSO READ: Not for court to decide if smoking policy is good or bad, says legal expert

Meanwhile, the British American Tobacco South Africa’s (Batsa) court case against the ban will be heard on 5 and 6 August after it was postponed by government.

The August hearing date will extend the ban on the sale of tobacco products to four and half months.

According to the company, there are over 200 commercial tobacco farmers, and 150 emerging tobacco farmers in South Africa, which provide approximately 8,000 jobs.

“The dependents are estimated to number more than 30,000, primarily in rural areas. Tobacco farmers are also excluded from the R1.2-billion disaster fund made available to assist South African farmers.”

The company said its total revenue loss exceeds R2-billion in a nine-week period.

This week, the Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP) released a report that backs the calls for an immediate lifting of the ban, which Batsa said it fully supported.

The REEP study revealed that 93% of South Africa’s approximately 11 million smokers were still able to purchase cigarettes, meaning that millions of illegal transactions were taking place across the country every day.

The ban has cost over R4 billion in excise taxes alone and substantial job losses according to the study.

READ MORE: How the age-old cigarette smuggling industry works

The research also proved that there has been a huge increase of 430% in the number of people sharing cigarettes, and potentially exposing themselves to Covid-19, as a result of the now almost four-month prohibition on the legal sale of tobacco and vaping products.

This is largely due to the high price of the illicit products which on average are 250% higher than the pre-lockdown price.

The post-ban hike in excise tax will “permanently” hand the majority of the cigarette market to criminals who do not contribute to this country’s fiscus.

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