A group of companies, including British American Tobacco (BAT), retailer Spar and the SA Spaza & Tuckshop Association, has written an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet, calling for the controversial ban on tobacco and vaping products to be lifted.

The letter states that the ban has resulted in the loss of R3.5bn in excise taxes and enriched “billionaire criminals in the illegal trade”, money that could have paid for hospitals, 5,000 ventilators and 23-million food parcels for the poor...

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