Following two crushing blows for smokers this week, the cigarette ban continues to exist in controversial circumstances. As one challenge against the tobacco laws was dismissed, another was put on hold for six weeks. But is there any light at the end of the tunnel for those who enjoy a good draw?

It’s not over until it’s over. Even though the tobacco industry has been humbled over the past few days, that doesn’t mean they will be giving up any time soon. We’ve looked at the possible outcomes which could bring the cigarette ban to end before lockdown is officially over, through either court or government intervention:

How will the cigarette ban come to an end?

Via the courts:

  • BATSA will wait their turn until August

British American Tobacco (BATSA) confirmed to us on Monday that they are not planning any specific interventions between now and their court showdown with the government in August. However, they are convinced that their arguments are strong enough overturn the cigarette ban.

  • FITA could appeal their case, and win…

The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) was shot down in flames last week, when their bid to overturn the cigarette ban was rejected by the Pretoria High Court. However, their representative Sinenhlanhla Mnguni has confirmed they are likely to appeal the judgment, in a bid to end tobacco prohibition:

“We were confident given the argument which was put forward by our legal team and we believe that it was quite a strong argument. We’re still in the process of studying the judgment and consulting with their legal team. That includes the possibility of an appeal against the ruling of the Pretoria High Court.”

Sinenhlanhla Mnguni

  • Political alliances lodge their own challenges

Last Friday, the FF Plus became the latest political organisation to challenge the rule of lockdown in court, following previous legal action from the DA and AfriForum. All of these cases are still under deliberation, but should they be successful, the lockdown laws would collapse and bring cigarettes back onto our shelves.

Via the government

  • One minister says cigarettes will return at Level 2

Jackson Mthembu has confidently stated that the cigarette ban would be lifted when Level 2 restrictions come into place. However, with South Africa arguably closer to sliding back a level rather than moving forward, this next alert stage could be months away. And, as more rules are relaxed for Level 3, it’s unlikely that the government would add cigarette sales to the list – unless they’re forced into it through a court decision.

  • And another is aiming for Level 1

If Level 2 seems a way off, then Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s preference to hold tobacco sales back until Level 1 will feel like a lifetime for smokers. She has argued for cigarettes to only return during the lightest form on lockdown, which might only take place towards the end of the year.

Ramaphosa, meanwhile, is none the wiser. Speaking on the controversial decision to block cigarette sales earlier this month, the president said “it is difficult to determine when the ban on the sale of tobacco will end”. As it stands, South Africa is the only country in the world to keep a smoking ban in place over COVID-19 fears.

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Presh JM Reporter

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