COVID-19: Tobacco giant to take legal action against sales ban by South Africa

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British American Tobacco (BATSA) on Friday announce that it would begin urgent legal proceedings to challenge the ’s continued ban on tobacco sales during the .

has started easing its measures, allowing sales of alcohol from Monday. However, a ban on sales of tobacco will remain in place.

The has cited health reasons for the ban, but groups and leaders say it has dire consequences for addicts and the already flailing .

BATSA’s head of external affairs, Johnny Moloto, said that the continued ban was threatening the survival of the legal tobacco sector as well as livelihoods of those it employs.

“The ban has only succeeded in significantly growing a massive and nationwide illegal industry at the direct expense of law-abiding businesses, citizens and taxpayers,” Moloto said in a statement.

He added that the treasury was losing about 2 million dollars in excise taxes every day the ban continued.

South African Revenue Service Commissioner, Edward Kieswetter estimated that more than 80 million dollars had been lost due to illicit trade in alcohol and cigarettes during the lockdown.

South Africa has earned praise for its rapid response to the pandemic, but also criticism of its strict regulations and brutal enforcement by the police and .

President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted the government had received numerous legal from individuals, religious bodies, , NGOs and organisations since March.

South Africa had 27,403 confirmed cases by Thursday, of which 14,370 have recovered and 577 have died.(dpa/NAN)

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