Tag: Cigarette ban

Is it time to quit smoking

News: Government must consult stakeholders before future tobacco bans.

The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) has dropped its case against government over the tobacco sales ban.

In terms of the settlement reached this week, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had agreed to follow a public participation process before reinstating the ban, if at all in the future.

“Any invitation to or announcement of a consultation process will be issued publicly. Fita and any other interested parties would then be free to participate in that process,”

“Any future decision regarding the prohibition of the sale of tobacco and related products, if any, shall be taken in accordance with the law and the requirements of legality.”

The parties have agreed to pay their own costs  both in the high court.

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

News: Dlamini-Zuma cannot promise she will not reinstate ban on cigarettes

According to BusinessTech, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma cannot promise that she will not reinstate a ban on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

While the sale of tobacco products was lifted for the first time in nearly five months on Tuesday (18 August), the future of tobacco sales remains a key point in an ongoing court case between the government and tobacco companies.

The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) has told the government that if it promises not impose a tobacco ban in the future, it will withdraw its case, News24 reported.

In a letter sent by the state attorney to Fita, the government said that Dlamini-Zuma cannot give an undertaking and agree to this condition as it limits the minister’s powers under the Disaster Management Act.

“This is not because they intend to reinstate the temporary prohibition at a later stage, but simply because agreeing to this condition would constitute an impermissible and unlawful fettering of the minister’s discretion conferred upon her in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002.”

“‘That said, the minister can, and does, undertake that any future decision regarding the sale of tobacco and tobacco products, if any, would be taken in accordance with the law and the requirements of legality.”

During lockdown Dlamini-Zuma initially banned tobacco sales, citing the dangers of Covid-19 as a respiratory disease.

“There was evidence coming from other countries showing that some smokers tend to have a more serious disease which means we will need more ICU beds and maybe more ventilators,” she said.

“On the other hand, the results of stopping smoking do show pretty quickly. Your respiratory tract does improve quickly and just your general well-being improves – that’s why it was prohibited temporarily.”she said

News: Ramaphosa told to lift the ban on cigarettes and alcohol by the NCCC

According to News24, the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and Cabinet have been advised to lift the ban on the sale of cigarettes and alcohol and move the country to Alert Level Two of the nationwide lockdown.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce his decision this week.

News24 has confirmed that Ramaphosa chaired meetings of the NCCC and Cabinet on Tuesday where the overwhelming argument was in favour of fully reopening the economy.

This is in light of the fact that fewer confirmed Covid-19 cases have been reported daily. 

Four sources who have knowledge of the discussions told News24 that the economic devastation of the cigarette sales ban could no longer be justified. The country has lost billions of rand in tax revenue as a result of the ban and the illegal selling of cigarettes has flourished. 

The same argument was made for the reinstated alcohol ban that has been in place for the last month. 

Officials said they were told that hospitals were not overwhelmed as expected, and that South Africa’s recovery rate showed a positive trajectory. 

The discussion relating to the full reopening of the economy was first held on Sunday, at an extended meeting of the Forum of South African Directors-General (Fosad).

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

News: ‘Why ban cigarettes and not cooldrinks?’ Batsa asks Dlamini-Zuma

If co-operative governance & traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is concerned that sharing cigarettes may increase the spread of Covid-19, why did she not ban the sale of cooldrinks as well?

This was one of the arguments advanced by British American Tobacco SA (Batsa) before its legal fight to overturn the cigarette sales ban. Batsa — and other litigants including farmers, processors, manufactures, retailers and consumers — are taking legal action against Dlamini-Zuma, President Cyril Ramaphosa and the national coronavirus command council in the high court in Cape Town, TimesLive reported.

Cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will defend her decision to ban the sale of tobacco products in the high court in Cape Town on Wednesday.

“As far as the minister’s concern is that smoking and vaping increase the risk that people may develop Covid-19 as a result of repeated hand-to-mouth action associated with smoking and vaping, this concern could be addressed in a less restrictive manner by way of awareness campaigns regarding hygiene and hand washing,” Batsa said in court papers.

“That is, after all, why the government has implemented widespread education and awareness campaigns to educate the public to take measures to reduce the spread of the virus. For example, the government has not prohibited the sale of cold drinks merely because they are capable of being shared from the same bottle or can; it has rather educated consumers not to share bottles or cans.”

According to TimesLive, Batsa says in court papers that Dlamini-Zuma’s decision has increased risky behaviour among smokers because of the proliferation of illicit cigarettes.

“The minister accepts that measures like these ‘will go some way to alleviating the risks of such conduct’,” the court documents read.

“However, she adopts the position that risky behaviour in the form of cigarette-sharing would increase if the prohibition were to be lifted. The correct position is exactly the reverse: the prohibition added to the incidence of risky behaviour because it encourages the growth of the illicit market for cigarettes at exorbitant prices.”

Batsa is set to use expert evidence to poke holes into the scientific literature which informed Dlamini-Zuma’s decision to ban cigarettes sales.

News: The mysterious case of the missing cigarettes in Namibia.

Andre le Roux, a public relations specialist in Windhoek, admits he’s a “a big smoker”. He’s particularly fond of smoking Peter Stuyvesant, a brand manufactured in South Africa by British American Tobacco.

However, over the last few months, he’s had trouble getting hold of Peter Stuyvesant.

“Certain types are sold out at places like Checkers, Pick n Pay, Spar and (Namibian retailer)Woermann Brock,” he says. “I’ve placed my family, friends and colleagues on high alert, and asked them to immediately buy if they find any.”

It’s particularly brands made in SA, or popular here, like Peter Stuyvesant, Pall Mall, Dunhill, and Rothmans that are mysteriously hard to find.

Retailers, though, say they’re not seeing any shortages. A spokesperson for Ohlthaver & List, which runs Pick n Pay in Namibia, told Business Insider South Africa that there’s no shortage of cigarettes available in stores.

Le Roux isn’t alone, however. Various smokers in Namibia confirmed to Business Insider that they’re struggling to find cigarettes.

That should be pretty hard. Over the last few months, South Africa has exported record numbers of cigarettes to Namibia.

In 2019, South Africa exported 3.7 million kilograms of cigarettes to Namibia. In the first five months of 2020, that figure stood at 1.2 million kilograms, putting it on track for a slower year. But in May cigarette exports suddenly exploded, when South Africa exported 733,653 kilograms of cigarettes to Namibia – which could make for 8.8 million kilograms if that were kept up for a year.

That’s strange, says former Sars lawyer Telita Snyckers, and author of Dirty Tobacco.

Namibians smoke, on average, around 298 cigarettes per capita, Snyckers says, which equals about 729 million cigarettes a year. The export numbers for May suggest that, in one month, South Africa exported about as many cigarettes to Namibia as the entire country smokes in a year.

It’s not just to Namibia, she says. In May, South African manufacturers exported the highest volume of cigarettes since 2017. The majority of these exports went to Mali, Namibia, and Lesotho.

Curiously, Mali’s records don’t show any cigarette imports from South Africa since 2017.

According to Snyckers, it would be “bizarre” if Namibians were struggling to get hold of their preferred South African brands.

Yet, that’s just what’s happening, anecdotal evidence shows.

“A lot of smokers are struggling to find their brands, and retailers can’t say when they’ll get stock in. It’s apparently a supplier issue, but no one is giving us any certainty,” says Le Roux.

So if there’s no apparent shortage of cigarettes according to retailers and export volumes, why would Le Roux and others struggle? There’s no official reason – because there’s no official shortage.

There is only the suggestive fact that the surge in cigarette volumes exported from South Africa coincided with the national ban on the sale of cigarettes in this country.

According to Snyckers, around one-third of cigarette exports go missing globally. In South Africa, around 66% – a full two thirds – of cigarettes declared for export go missing before reaching their destination, according to Snyckers’s analysis of Sars data.

Cigarette manufacturers blame theft, and say those cigarettes are being illegally smuggled back into South Africa.

Cigarette smuggling is an incredibly lucrative business. According to Johann van Loggerenberg, author of Tobacco Wars, criminal syndicates are earning R3 billion a month from cigarette sales during the lockdown.

“You have 7.5 million smokers in South Africa who’ve just had their supply cut off,” says Van Loggerenberg. “It’s any entrepreneur or capitalist’s dream.”

News: Smokers face disciplinary action after Andrew Mlangeni funeral

Internal disciplinary action has been taken against high-ranking soldiers caught smoking on national television at ANC stalwart Andrew Mlangeni’s funeral this week, TimesLive reported.

I spoke to the defence minister [Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula] yesterday, who said internal disciplinary action has been taken against soldiers smoking there,” Cele said during the release of the annual crime statistics on Friday.

“In the army that is called a negative order. Once you have a negative order, there is some form of discipline going forward, and that has already happened.”

Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni and the SA Tobacco Transformation Alliance (Satta) also demanded answers.

Cele reiterated smoking was “definitely” not banned in the country, but only the sale of cigarettes was prohibited.

“You can’t purchase something that is not allowed.”

 Cele said police would investigate whether the Disaster Management Act was contravened at the funeral.



Tobacco Ban: Which smokers are paying the most, and least, for lockdown cigarettes

SA smokers hankering for a puff during lockdown have been paying through the nose for their habit, with prices soaring by an average of 250%, TimesLive reported.

This pegs one box of 20 cigarettes at as much as R114, with black market prices rising significantly with the extension of the tobacco ban during level 3 of the national lockdown.

The study, conducted by the University of Cape Town’s research unit on the economics of excisable products, found that Capetonian smokers were hardest hit.

There are substantial differences in the price increase between the provinces.

  • The Western Cape recorded a 379% spike,
  • the Northern Cape at 367% and
  • Eastern Cape at 281% have experienced the largest increases,” the report reads.
  • Prices in Gauteng rose 152% compared to prices before lockdown.
  • Following on was Mpumalanga with 141%.
  • The cigarettes in Limpopo were the cheapest, with prices rising by 123%.

The study found that before the lockdown, nearly 80% of smokers surveyed enjoyed cigarette brands produced by multinational companies like British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International, Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Tobacco.

“By early May this percentage had decreased to 38% and by early June 2020 to 18%,” the report found.

Local tobacco producers had stolen significant market share during the lockdown, with Gold Leaf Tobacco and controversial Carnilinx making up 26% and 14% of the preferred brands while cigarettes have been outlawed.

“None of the top 10 cigarette brands that were most purchased by our survey respondents, pre-lockdown are in the top 10 list of cigarette brands purchased during the lockdown.”

Researchers noted that the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association’s (Fita) court case to have the sales ban lifted was “ironic”.

“This because their members have benefited disproportionately from the sales ban. They have greatly increased their share of the market within our sample and sold their cigarettes at hugely inflated prices.

“The extraordinary profits likely earned during the lockdown 4 period will allow them to oppose tobacco control reforms more effectively in future. For example, they could engage in legal battles with the government over the Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill or Track and Trace systems,” the study found.

“Being able to produce cigarettes legally for the export market, but not able to sell cigarettes in SA, has created a loophole and an incentive to sell illegally in the very lucrative local market. Manufacturers will find it difficult to resist this temptation, especially because so many companies are selling cigarettes, despite the sales ban.

“Given the tobacco industry’s long record of involvement in illicit trade, it is likely that they will divert cigarettes, ostensibly destined for the export market, to the local market.

“The multinationals have been the biggest losers during the lockdown period,” the report reads.

Most of those who had quit smoking during the lockdown did so because of price gauging, and not because of concerns over their health.

“We predict that, once the sales ban is lifted, there will be a price war, in which the multinationals will aim to get some of their market share back and the non-multinational companies will aim to hold on to their markets.”

This could see cigarette prices plummet, a move which would be detrimental to public health.

Instead of imposing a sales ban to prevent people from smoking cigarettes, the government would have been able to achieve a similar outcome by substantially increasing the excise tax. Most smokers that have quit smoking during lockdown did not quit because of health concerns or because they wanted to follow the government’s regulations, but because the illegal market that was created by the lockdown made cigarettes unaffordable.”

Cigarette Ban: Pretoria high court to hear FITA’s application for appeal next week

The North Gauteng High Court on Thursday said it would hear the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association’s (FITA) application for leave to appeal the dismissal of its challenge to South Africa’s ongoing ban on cigarette sales, next week.

The matter has been set down for July 15, FITA’s chairman, Sinenhlanhla Mnguni, said.

On June 26, a full bench of the high court dismissed the challenge brought by the association against the ban, which was extended indefinitely by Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in April, with costs.

FITA has asked for urgent leave to appeal directly to the Supreme Court of Appeal and is challenging last month’s ruling in full, including the cost order.

We’ve just received confirmation from the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria that our application for leave to appeal the ruling of 26 June 2020 dismissing our cigarette ban challenge will be heard on the 15th of July 2020,”said Sinen Mguni, chairperson of FITA,

It should, FITA said in application papers, have found the test was whether something was “absolutely necessary”.

The court also erred in its application of the rationality test, which goes towards whether imposing a ban on cigarette sales was rationally linked to the purpose for which the government promulgated regulations in terms of section 27 of the act.

The court held that rationality was not a particularly stringent test and it had been satisfied by Dlamini Zuma in her reasoning for prohibiting the sale of tobacco products.

“The question before the Court is rather, having regard to the  evidence considered and relied on by the minister, could it be said that there is enough to conclude that the prohibition placed on the sale of tobacco products is  justified?” the judges held.

“In our view the answer is clearly in the affirmative.”

Lawyers for the minister argued that, based on the available scientific research, the government imposed the ban to prevent hospitals being overrun with smokers who presented with severe Covid-19 symptoms.

FITA disputed the scientific evidence and has done so again in its application for leave to appeal, but argued that to a large extent it was irrelevant because the rational foundation for the minister’s actions fell away unless it was proven that people had stopped smoking en masse as a result of the prohibition on cigarettes.

“The court erred in not finding that the ban in the regulations is based on  the fundamental false premise that if a certain number of people are  prevented from gaining access to cigarettes and tobacco products for a  limited period of time they will cease to be ‘smokers’,” the association said.

The ban is also being challenged by British American Tobacco SA. Their case will be heard in the Western Cape High Court in early August. It is estimated the ban has cost the fragile South African economy billions of rands a month and boosted the illegal cigarette trade.


Source: African News Agency

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