British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) will on Friday file an urgent court application against government’s decision to extend the ban on tobacco products when the country moves to Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown on Monday.

BATSA says its action is supported by, amongst others, Japan Tobacco International.

The organisation says it has made every effort to engage with government over the matter, but has to date received no response.

BATSA says the extended ban on tobacco is driving up the illicit trade on cigarettes, threatens thousands of jobs and is costing the government around R 35 million a day in tax.

There has been criticism over the decision to allow for the sale of alcohol and yet extend the ban on tobacco.

The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association has taken government to court over the matter and the Tobacco Transformation Alliance has called for an inquiry into alleged links between illicit tobacco traders and high profile politicians.

Statement from BATSA:

In the video below, British American Tobacco threatened to take government to court at the beginning of May:

On Tuesday, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said there are short and long-term benefits for people who stop smoking.

She cautiously responded to questions on tobacco due to the pending legal challenge against the ban on the sale of cigarettes.

She told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) that health experts and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have warned that smokers who contract the virus could face serious problems.

Dlamini-Zuma quoted the WHO on some of the benefits of giving up smoking.

She said, “The short-term benefits, I will just read some to you … it says: If you stop smoking, in 12 hours the carbon monoxide in your blood drops to normal. Two weeks after, your circulation improves and your lung function increases. One month to nine months, coughing and shortness of breath will decrease. And it goes on … I won’t waste your time.”-Additional reporting by Mercedes Besent.

In the video below, Prof Guy Richards speaks about the impact of coronavirus on smokers:

INFOGRAPHIC: Level 3 lockdown: