British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) will resume legal action against the country’s government’s decision to extend the ban on tobacco sales during Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown, reports Polity.
“BATSA has made every effort to constructively engage with the government since the ban came into force, including making detailed submissions, along with other interested parties, to various ministers, as well as directly to the presidency,” the company said in a statement.
“To date, no formal response has been received from the government, and BATSA has also not been included in any of the government’s consultation processes so far.”
The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association has already taken the government to court to challenge the ban in a separate case.
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, argued that, while Covid-19 is a relatively new disease, early studies support the view that using tobacco products increases not only the risk of catching the disease but also the risk of contracting a more serious form of the disease.
“This, in turn, increases strain on the public health system, by increasing the number of people who will need access to resources such as intensive care unit beds and ventilators,” she said.
BAT said the ban threatens the survival of South Africa’s legal tobacco sector, which employs thousands.