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FITA fears possible cigarette sales ban as government appeals court ruling

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The Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association said it feared another cigarette sales ban could be on the cards as the government intends to appeal the decision of the full bench of the Western Cape High Court which held that Regulation 45 of the lockdown level three regulations cannot and does not withstand constitutional scrutiny.

“We feel that this step by government is regrettable given the irreparable harm on the tobacco industry along its value chain which was occasioned by the five-month-long ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco-related products,” said FITA chairperson, Sinenhlanhla Mnguni.

He said the pending appeal would “suspend the operation of the Western Cape High Court judgment until this matter is properly ventilated before the courts, which matter could take months if not longer to resolve.”

Mnguni said FITA also believed that the cigarette sales ban has led to the exponential and unabated growth of the illicit cigarette market, which issue has the knock-on effect of increased losses to the fiscus.

He said the tax money spent on defending the many legal challenges during the lockdown period, due to its implementation of many irrational regulations, meant that government spent a substantial amount of funds and other resources to fighting unnecessary legal battles.

Mnguni said the government could have used those resources to combat the spread of the coronavirus and its impact on the citizens of this country.

“We have at all times called for common sense to prevail, which to date, sadly has not been the case. We again urge government to reconsider their position on this issue,” he said.

 

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