Press Statement – FITA – for immediate release
We note the decision by government to appeal the decision of the full bench of the Western Cape High Court which held that Regulation 45 of the lockdown level 3 regulations cannot and does not withstand constitutional scrutiny.
We feel that this step by government is regrettable given the irreparable harm on the tobacco industry along its value chain which was occasioned by the 5 month-long ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco related products for consumption by the local market, and which ban has led to the exponential and unabated growth of the illicit cigarette market, which issue has the knock-on effect of increased losses to the fiscus as less taxes are collected by the receiver.
We are of the view that the many legal challenges government has had to defend during the lockdown period, due to its implementation of many irrational regulations, have meant that government has expended a substantial amount of funds and other resources to fighting unnecessary legal battles instead of utilizing those resources to combat the spread of the coronavirus and its impact on the citizens of this country.
This step by government is further worrisome in that it signals the potential arrival of yet another cigarette sales ban given that the pending appeal will suspend the operation of the Western Cape High Court judgment until this matter is properly ventilated before the courts, which matter could take months if not longer to resolve.
We have at all times called for common sense to prevail, which to date, sadly has not been the case. We again urge government to reconsider their position on this issue.
It is on record that FITA previously reached an agreement with government that we be consulted by government should any future cigarette bans be in the pipeline, and we hope that this provision of the agreement in place between our organization and government is adhered to.
Issued by Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association Chairperson: Sinenhlanhla Mnguni 05 January 2021
For queries kindly contact Monique Vogel t: 072 720 7919; e: Monique@fita.co.za