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Legal challenge to cigarette ban in court

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British American Tobacco SA’s challenge of cigarette ban in court.

File picture: Reuters

THE LEGAL action by South Africa’s biggest tobacco producer, British American Tobacco SA (Batsa), to challenge the government’s cigarette ban, is being heard in the Western Cape High Court today (Wednesday) and on Thursday.

Batsa is supported in this action by Japan Tobacco International (JTI), as well as groups and organisations representing the tobacco value chain across the country, including consumers, tobacco farmers and retailers.

The tobacco giant said it has made every effort to constructively engage with the government since the ban came into force, including making detailed submissions, along with other interested parties, to various ministers, as well as directly to the Presidency.

Batsa’s head of external affairs Johnny Moloto previously said the ban is having a massive impact on people’s livelihoods.

“The government’s continued ban on legal tobacco sales is threatening the survival of the legal tobacco sector and the livelihoods it directly supports. It (the ban) has only succeeded in significantly growing a massive and nationwide illegal industry at the direct expense of law-abiding businesses, citizens and taxpayers,” he said.

Batsa also explained that the ongoing tobacco ban was costing the government R35 million in taxes daily.