Article by Natalie Müller
The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) has decided to take the legal route against the government as a remedy to have the cigarette ban lifted.
FITA said it received a lot of submissions, queries and support with many asking what the next steps regarding the cigarette ban will be.
Sinenhlanhla Mguni, FITA chairperson said there is uncertainty on when the lockdown will end, and its pleas for the government to ease the restrictions have been futile. This led to the organisation consulting with their legal team they had decided to approach the courts to reverse the ban.
“This decision was not taken lightly and we had hoped that a logical solution in the best interests of all concerned would be arrived at without the need for litigation,” Mnguni said.
FITA requests that the government should at least allow the distribution and sale of cigarettes at spaza shops, petrol stations and retail stores where citizens are permitted to purchase essential products.
The ban on cigarettes has increased the illicit trade of illegal cigarettes where a man in Limpopo was arrested with R700 000 worth of illegal cigarettes.
In Cape Town, the Metro Police seized 70 boxes of counterfeit cigarettes worth almost R1 million.
“The long and short of this all is that the regulations have not stopped people from buying cigarettes during the lockdown period. People are sourcing cigarettes and other goods from underground markets to the detriment of the fiscus,” Mnguni said.