The Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) plans to mount a legal challenge against South Africa’s temporary ban on cigarette sales, which was implemented to help prevent spread of the coronavirus.
“The simple truth is that the current situation cannot be endured for much longer by the various role-players along the tobacco industry value chain without severe consequences for all,” said FITA Chairman Sinenhlanhla Mnguni.
“Allowing the current situation to continue indefinitely will in all likelihood lead to job losses and/or loss of income for many along the tobacco industry value chain,” he added.
Mnguni pointed out that people had started being assaulted and murdered for cigarettes. “We are also seeing the illicit trade flourish whilst the legitimate tobacco industry is prevented from participating,” he said, adding that the government is missing out on some ZAR1.5 billion ($79.01 million) a month in excise tax revenue alone.
“This at a time when we are already dealing with huge deficits as far as our tax collections are concerned with the recent announcement that the South Africa Revenue Service collected ZAR66.2 billion less than estimated for the last financial year,” said Mnguni.