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CT smokers reiterate call for govt to lift ban on tobacco products

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Under level 3 lockdown, tobacco companies could export but local sales were still off-limits.

Cape Town smokers on 13 June 2020 gathered once again at the gates of Parliament to protest against the ban on cigarette sales under level 3 of the national coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN.










CAPE TOWN – A group of smokers on Saturday were at the gates of Parliament once again protesting against the ban on the sale of tobacco products.

Almost two weeks ago, they were at the same spot calling on government to allow people to purchase these products.

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Under level 3 lockdown, tobacco companies could export but local sales were still off-limits.

The protestors held placards stating, “the tobacco ban must fall” and “enough is enough”.

They said government was making them criminals partaking in an illicit cigarette trade by denying them the right to smoke tobacco products.

But this was not a usual protest. People were asked to bring along non-perishable foods such as soup mix, canned food, or long-life milk equivalent to the price of a packet of cigarettes.

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This would be donated to an organisation in Strandfontein that feeds needy families during the lockdown.

Pamela Valensky, from Goodwood, said the ban made no sense and she was forced to buy a packet of cigarettes on the black market at four times the amount it usually costs.

“Unban cigarettes… I’m here to get my rights back and I have a right to smoke. The government has no say when it comes to my bad habits and lungs,” Valensky said.

The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) took government to court and sought a declaration that the ban was unlawful. The matter was heard at the Pretoria High Court this week, and judgment was reserved.

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