High Court rejects bid to appeal cigarette ban, but FITA says it is not giving up

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South Africa instituted its ban on the sale of cigarettes in late March, 2020.
South Africa instituted its ban on the sale of cigarettes in late March, 2020.
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  • The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association's attempt to appeal a ruling that upheld the ban on the sale of tobacco has been rejected. 
  • The court says it was unlikely to succeed. 
  • But FITA says it's not giving up on its bid to appeal.


The High Court in Pretoria has rejected an application by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association for leave to appeal a ruling than upheld a ban on the sale of cigarettes during the current Covid-19 lockdown.

A full bench of the court dismissed the application with costs, stating that the organisation "failed to show that the appeal bears reasonable prospects of success".  

The sale of cigarettes has been banned since the start of the lockdown in late March, with the government justifying the ban as necessary for health reasons amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which has already killed some 6 000 people. FITA will now approach the Supreme Court of Appeal to consider the application.

Spokesperson for FITA, Sinenhlanhla Mnguni, said the organisation, which primarily represents local manufacturers, were prepared for this outcome and would escalate the matter.

"We have always had it in mind that this may be an eventuality... so we were prepared to take the next step, which is what we are going to do now, [namely] petitioning the Supreme Court of Appeal for the same relief," Mnguni said. 

"We are in the process of preparing a petition to the Supreme Court of Appeal which are hoping to file within the course of the next week."

The ongoing cigarette ban has resulted in prices continuing to spike on the black market, while any benefits of the ban were mostly achieved under lockdown alert level 5, according to a recent study by the Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP), an independent research unit based at the University of Cape Town.

A separate separate legal battle between government and British American Tobacco SA is expected to be heard in August. 

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