FITA Press release 08 APRIL 2020

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Press release – FITA – for immediate release

The confusion around the ban on the sale of cigarettes during the lockdown period has taken yet another twist. We have been forwarded information by a few concerned South Africans that the British American Tobacco South Africa (“BATSA”) owned vaping product Twisp is being sold widely within South Africa during the lockdown period, with some retailers even offering delivery of the product, despite the government-imposed ban on the sale of inter alia cigarettes and other tobacco products.

If permission for the sale of the abovementioned product has received the green light from government we would find it most illogical as this would fly in the face of the argument previously put forward by government that smoking poses a health risk to citizens of this country when implementing the ban on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products. This also at a time when studies around vaping products and electronic cigarettes are not conclusive in relation to their health benefits and/or risks, with some countries even going as far as banning some of these products.

This inconsistency would confirm our view that the regulations in so far as they relate to the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products amongst other so-called “non-essential” goods is irrational.

Is this yet another case of some being more equal before the law than others?

This is of course not the first time that the multinational concerned has been able to wield its power and force government to cave into its demands. An international research paper by students from the University of Bath also recently ranked South Africa high amongst countries with tobacco industry interference on government policies pertaining to the industry.

The above also does not look good given the fact that a well-known business personality associated with the aforementioned multinational has made a substantial donation to government in its fight against the coronavirus.

We do not want to cast aspersions at this point and, we therefore call upon government to take us into its confidence vis-à-vis the sale of Twisp products countrywide at a time when they have been vociferous in their opposition to the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products during the lockdown period.

We have over the course of the last two weeks given our views on the ban and its effects. We however feel that if this ban is to be imposed on the tobacco industry, then it should be applied equally across the board, with no preferential treatment given to any industry role players.

We still remain hopeful that a logical solution which benefits all parties concerned will be found.

 

Issued by Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association (“FITA”)

8 April 2020

For queries kindly contact Monique Vogel t: 072 720 7919; e: Monique@fita.co.za

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