COVID-19: Tobacco Ban - BATSA and Dlamini-Zuma in court next week.

COVID-19: Tobacco Ban – BATSA and Dlamini-Zuma in court next week.

British American Tobacco South Africa has presented hard-hitting arguments to court in a bid to prove government’s tobacco ban is irrational and based on faulty evidence.

This as news broke on Thursday night that the mega-court case will finally be heard next week according to Fin24.

In her court papers, Dlamini-Zuma controversially argued that the economic damage from the cigarette ban was being partially mitigated by a flourishing illegal market, representing economic activity.

Now BATSA has hit back in papers lodged with the High Court on June 24.

In an affidavit, CEO of BATSA, Andre Joubert, argues Dlamini-Zuma:

  • failed to make a convincing legal argument that the cigarette ban was legally necessary;
  • failed to make a legitimate health arguments, to show smoking increased the chance of contracting Covid-19, or that smokers would be worse-off if they did contract the virus
  • failed to show the ban had stopped the purchase of cigarettes.

Instead, Dlamini-Zuma had admitted 21 billion cigarettes would likely still be bought illegally, without due taxes accruing to government, leading to a multi-billion rand loss in government income.

In his affidavit, Joubert argues that when Dlamini-Zuma admitted “I do not say that the medical literature is absolutely conclusive”,  she lost the credible right to then claim it is “necessary” to prohibit the sale of tobacco and vaping products.

Joubert argues the Minister provided “no evidence” to show that smoking cessation for a limited period would reverse or reduce the risk of contracting a more severe form of Covid-19, adding that she admits, in her court papers, that due to the “newness” of the disease, there is not enough data to assess whether or to what extent the chance of infection or disease progression decreases upon quitting smoking.

The report includes a scathing attack on Dlamini-Zuma’s answering affidavit, in which she had suggested increasing export activity as a remedy to economic damage caused by the local ban.

Her papers had also stated that an increase in illicit trade would in itself boost economic activity.

The matter is due to be heard in the Western Cape division of the High Court on Tuesday June 30.

Source: Fin24

(RP)


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