Over 270,000 South Africans have signed a petition against the ban on the sale of cigarettes, while the tobacco industry prepares to mount a legal challenge.
In response to the government’s apparent U-turn on Wednesday night, the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) said: “Consulting with our attorneys and senior counsel on the urgent court application first thing in the morning. Let a court of law adjudicate on this issue once and for all.”
The petition, started by Bev McClean, was started when smokers were given one day’s notice of the ban ahead of the lockdown on March 27.
On Wednesday night, the number of signatories shot up after cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced that cigarettes would not be allowed under level 4 restrictions.
Dlamini-Zuma’s announcement comes a week after President Cyril Ramaphosa said the sale of cigarettes would be allowed.
By 7.25am on Thursday, 273,483 people had signed the petition on change.org.
“We were given one day’s notice of the banning of cigarette sales during the lockdown, which is really unfair and spiteful,” the petition reads.
Withdrawal of nicotine, the author of the petition notes, has serious effects on a lot of people and is especially elevated because of the “stress and fear” happening in the country.
“It causes, among others, depression and anxiety, and because we are in lockdown, most people will lash out and maybe even hurt loved ones unintentionally.
“Uplifting the ban [sic] would, among other things, save jobs, bring more money into the state coffers, stimulate the economy, and decrease the psychological impact on us South Africans of the lockdown period.
“Please don’t turn us into criminals, Mr President. The measure of a man is what he does with power.”
TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)