Jackson Mthembu hints that tobacco ban could be lifted under Level 2 lockdown

29 May 2020 - 06:54 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu said he does not see the ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products continuing past Level 3.
Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu said he does not see the ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products continuing past Level 3.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

Smokers might have to wait a little longer before the ban on the sale of tobacco products, including cigarettes, is lifted.

This after minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu hinted that the ban on tobacco will likely be lifted at Level 2 of the lockdown.

Mthembu told EWN on Thursday that he did not see the ban continuing past Level 3.

He also said that he did not know for sure how long Level 3 would last.

“The ban on cigarettes, it’s just at this level we are in. We don’t know how many weeks we will be at this level. I can assure you after we’ve been out of level 3, I don’t see the ban on the sale of cigarettes continuing,” Mthembu said.

Mthembu added that the government would consult with members of the public on the controversial tobacco ban and other issues when it was time to move to Level 2.

During an interministerial briefing on Level 3 regulations, Mthembu said the government was preparing to defend itself against mounting legal actions.

“Any matter that is before the court cannot be discussed in public. We are preparing ourselves to defend ourselves in the court of law. Can we allow the court process to continue without being disturbed ... the matter is sub judice,” he said.

TimesLIVE reported that government submitted its affidavit in relation to the court case by the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) on Wednesday after the association requested that the court set aside the government's decision to temporarily ban the sale of tobacco products.

In the affidavit, co-operative governance & traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the ban was worth maintaining because the use of tobacco products increases not only the risk of transmission of Covid-19, but also the risk of contracting a more severe form of the disease.


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