Picture: 123RF/GINA SANDERS
Picture: 123RF/GINA SANDERS

Lobby group, Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) has withdrawn its legal challenge to the rationality of the ban on the sale of tobacco products during the lockdown after reaching a settlement with the government.

The organisation, which represents SA’s local cigarette manufacturers, was granted permission in the Supreme Court of Appeal to appeal the Pretoria High Court’s dismissal of its efforts to overturn the ban, which is estimated to have cost the country up to R38m a day in lost excise duties.

The ban on the sale of tobacco products, which was in place for five months, was lifted earlier in August when the country moved to level 2 of the risk-adjusted strategy to deal with the spread of Covid-19.

Fita has been insisting that the ban should not be imposed under any lockdown level.

The organisation’s chair Sinenhlanhla Mnguni said on Wednesday that the parties agreed, as part of a negotiated settlement, that should minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma want to reinstate the temporary ban on the sale of tobacco products at any stage in the future, she will follow a public participation process.

An invitation to attend the consultation process will also be made public and Fita and other interested parties will be free to participate in the process. This was not the case when the initial ban was implemented, Mnguni said.

The settlement also stated that any future decision regarding the prohibition, should be taken in accordance with the law.

Based on this, Fita withdrew its appeal and the parties agreed to pay their own costs.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape High Court has yet to deliver its ruling on British American Tobacco SA’s (BAT) challenge to the ban. BAT has argued that the ban is unconstitutional.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za

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