Tuesday, 14 June 2022 17:55

SCA dismisses Dlamini-Zuma’s appeal on tobacco ban during lockdown.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein has confirmed a high court's ruling that government was wrong to ban the sale of cigarettes at the start of the nationwide lockdown in March 2020.

This after a regulation made under Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 (the Act), prohibiting the sale of tobacco and related products, was challenged as infringement of fundamental rights – dignity, bodily and psychological integrity, freedom of trade and deprivation of property.

The respondents in the case are farmers, processors, manufacturers, retailers and consumers, situated at every level of the supply chain for tobacco and vaping products.

According to the respondents, South Africa, Botswana and India were the only countries in the world to prohibit the sale of tobacco and vaping products to consumers during a national lockdown.

Countries such as Italy, France, Switzerland and Spain had expressly classified tobacconists and other retailers that sell tobacco and vaping products as essential shops that could remain open during lockdown.

The high court had made an order declaring Regulation 45 inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid.

Defending her decision, Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the ban on tobacco sales was to protect human life and health, and reduce the potential strain on the health system, particularly given the then-predicted steep rise in the rate of infections following the lifting of the level 4 restrictions on work and the movement of people necessary to re-start the economy.

"The use of tobacco products increased behavioural risks associated with the transmission of Covid-19, as some smokers share lit cigarettes, "she argued.

The SCA found that Dlamini-Zuma had little scientific evidence her claims.