President Cyril Ramphosa has told Parliament that both submissions and medical literature were used when a decision to ban the sale of tobacco products was made. He said this in a written reply to a Parliamentary question by Democratic Alliance MP Dean Macpherson.

The President says consideration was given after he had initially announced on the 23rd April that the sale of cigarettes would be allowed.

President Ramaphosa says the submissions and the relevant medical literature focusing on the effects of smoking on public and individual health were carefully considered. He says this includes considering the effects of COVID-19 on smokers, given that the coronavirus is a respiratory illness.

The President says the final decision to prohibit the sale of cigarettes was ultimately approved by the National Coronavirus Command Council followed by Cabinet which gave the final endorsement before the regulations were implemented.

However, Macpherson says the President’s response is an admission that he has no imperial evidence to support the continued ban on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco-related products under Level 3 lockdown regulations.

Unbanning tobacco sales could be disastrous 

Meanwhile, the Department of Health in the Eastern Cape says the possible unbanning of the sale of tobacco products could have disastrous consequences for the province’s fight to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

An application by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association contesting the legality of the regulations banning cigarette sales will be heard in the High Court in Pretoria next week. The head of the Eastern Cape’s Health Department, Dr Thobile Mbengashe says the unbanning of tobacco sales could reverse the gains they’ve made in the fight against the virus.

“The banning of tobacco in restaurants, many people have stopped smoking.  Our worry is that winter is coming. Flu is gonna come and tobacco is going to irritate chests. Your chest and there is COVID-19 on top of that you can make things worse than they are. It’s going to crowd the system.”

In the video below, the tobacco industry takes government to court:

In the video below, the world observes No Tobacco Day: