South Africa: Bat Spat - Tobacco Giant Drops Legal Action to Pursue Talks On Cigarette Ban


British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) has decided not to pursue legal action to have the ban on the sale of tobacco products lifted and instead will engage with government. This comes after it received a formal response to its letter to ministers in the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC). It suggests the possibility of compromise on the controversial issue.

In a statement on Wednesday 6 May, BATSA said it "would pursue further discussions with government on the formulation and application of the regulations under the Covid-19 lockdown". The company had previously signalled its intention to take legal action on the matter.

"We are convinced that by working together we can find a better solution that works for all South Africans and removes the threat of criminal sanction from 11 million tobacco consumers in the country," it said.

This suggests that in its response, the NCCC was open to discussion, so perhaps a compromise can be found on this issue as well as on the ban on the sale of alcohol, which among other things has triggered numerous looting incidents.

BATSA, taking a cue from SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter, stressed the rise in the illicit tobacco trade that has been...

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