Blow for smokers as Fita has court setback but tobacco battle continues

The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) has lost its application for leave to appeal against a high court ruling that dismissed its challenge to the ban on cigarette sales.
The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) has lost its application for leave to appeal against a high court ruling that dismissed its challenge to the ban on cigarette sales.
Image: 123rf.com/marcbruxelle

The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) says it will petition the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) after a setback in court in its challenge to the tobacco sales ban on Friday.

Fita was seeking leave to appeal against a Pretoria high court ruling that dismissed its challenge to the ban on the sale of tobacco products. But a full bench of the high court dismissed the appeal.

“We were prepared for any eventuality in respect of judgment in this matter and we will be petitioning the Supreme Court of Appeal for the appropriate relief,” said Fita CEO Sinenhlanhla Mnguni.


Fita had argued before the high court in its application for leave to appeal that there was no evidence that the ban on the sale of tobacco products alleviates the burden on the health-care system.

“Even on the [co-operative governance & traditional affairs] minister's [Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma] own approach, it has not been demonstrated that the ban has any impact on the health-care system. It needs to be demonstrated that the long-term effects of banning smoking are going to alleviate the burden on the health-care system,” Arnold Subel SC had argued.

In its judgment, the high court however, found that Dlamini- Zuma had “persuasively” demonstrated that the medical literature that she relied on demonstrated a firm basis on which to impose the ban to save lives and prevent a strain on the health-care system.

“It is acknowledged in the judgment that, although no study as yet exists demonstrating a conclusive link between smoking and Covid-19 progression, the studies and literature considered by the minister nonetheless provided her with a basis to demonstrate a rational basis between smoking and Covid-19 progression to justify the means adopted by her, namely, the ban,” the judgment reads.

The court found that Fita had not showed compelling reasons why an appeal should be heard.

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