British American Tobacco one of the largest producer of Cigarettes in South Africa, on Wednesday disclosed it’s plans on pursuing legal action in an attempt to force the state to permit the sale of cigarettes.
“We have taken the decision not to pursue legal action at this stage but, instead, to pursue further discussions with government on the formulation and application of the regulations under the Covid-19 lockdown,” as stated in their press briefing.
According to reports BATSA, the tobacco company, with over 78% share in the tobacco business has received a response from the the National Command Council stating that by working together they can find a better solution that will work for all South African and remove threats of criminal sanction form 11 million tobacco consumers in South Africa.
On March 26 of last month the government of South Africa banned the sale of cigarettes and tobacco when the nationwide lockdown under level 4 commenced as to curtail down the spread of coronavirus.
BATSA went further to reveal that the major beneficiaries of the ban on tobacco sales are the illicit traders.
“Whilst BATSA supports the government in its mission to prevent the further spread of the virus, we believe it is vital that there is a renewed and stronger effort under Level Four to permanently close down the illegal supply lines of tobacco that have been established over the past number of weeks. Reopening the legal, taxed and regulated tobacco market must be part of the solution.”
On Tuesday, commissioner of the SA Revenue Service, Edward Kieswetter, told Parliamentarians that cigarettes were still being bought and sold illicitly despite the lockdown.
A separate legal action by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association to compel the state to reintroduce the sale of tobacco products is set to be heard in court as early as next week. BATSA is not a member of FITA.
In the late 2016, the company’s total contribution to the Western Cape’s gross domestic product amounted to R1.48 billion as well as in 2015 or 0.3% of the province’s GDP. For every one Rand of sales revenue generated by the company, R1.91 of value is added to the province’s GDP.