Cigarette sales are still illegal in South Africa. This is despite a judge ruling that the COVID-19 restrictions in South Africa are unconstitutional. In early June, Judge Davis ruled that a number of the draconian regulations put in place by the government infringed on South African constitutional rights. Sadly, for smokers, ongoing cases before the court cannot be included in a separate judgment. This leaves smokers stuck with SA court wheels of justice. Wheels which are turning very, very slowly.
Cigarettes fall foul of jammed court dates
Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita), having had their day in court, now anxiously await a ruling. The judge needs to wade through 6000 pages of evidence. But, two weeks have already passed and the silence emanating from his chambers is deafening. To add to smoker woes, if the court rules against FITA, smokers will have to wait for the next court case. According to an article in The South African News today, that court case may well be delayed until August. British American Tobacco has been advised that the courts struggle to find three available judges for the hearing due to start later this week. The earliest date being mooted is over six weeks away, in August.
Business Against Crime insists the revenue losses to SARS are staggering. But, worse, the erosion of any effective policing of crime as the entire nation conspires to buy illegal cigarettes. And who can blame the smokers? Smoking is not technically an illegal act of addiction under South African law. Public opinions on Twitter range from outrage at the loss of civil liberties to determined conspiracy theories. The bottom line is that South Africans, tender from almost ten years of state capture, don’t trust their government. The ban on cigarettes directly feeds the fires of mistrust.
Twitcher Maik ‘o Jai insists the ban is “a blatant attempt to support … illegal business”. The Democratic Alliance says they are “struggling” to get a solid response from the president about the projected uplifting of the ban. Cigarette Fan posted a heartbreaking letter to the Presidency from a lonely smoker.
Another Twitcher, writing under the name, Give me back my cigarettes wrote, “I fear my government. Not Corona.”
Cigarettes remain banned currently
Smokers still seem united. Lift the ban please Mr. President, they beg. Treasury sounds concerned. Taxpayers sound extremely concerned. This government is a big, big spender and the loss of revenue through taxation on legal cigarettes literally ripped a large hole in the material of the National Budget. Where will those losses be made up? From the few taxpayers who still hold down a job after COVID-19? Many people wonder about that.
The cigarette sales ban appears to most thinking people, as a personal vendetta against smokers by a member of the medical profession. Cigarette smoking is not good for your health. Yes. Smokers all know that. COVID-19 is a dangerous and unseen enemy. It is here for the duration. Individuals need to be precautionary as best they can.
Unprecedented cigarette sharing
Banning cigarette sales led to unprecedented cigarette sharing as illegal cigarettes now cost so much. The ban is indefensible, smokers believe and they hope the courts prevail and quickly. South Africans sound tired of fighting their government. Some of them feel it’s all smoke and mirrors to use an international crisis to impose a doctor’s wishes on an entire nation.
What do you think about the continued Cigarette Ban?
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