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SOUTH AFRICA

Tobacco ban during lockdown ruled invalid

17 Jun 2022. The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has ruled that the regulation that saw the sale of tobacco products banned during the COVID-19 lockdowns was invalid, reports Times Live.

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had appealed a high court judgement from December 2020 which the SCA has now dismissed. The SCA also upheld a cross-appeal made by farmers, tobacco manufacturers, retailers and consumers and ruled that the minister and president pay their costs in the high court, reports Times Live.

Dlamini-Zuma had banned the sale of tobacco products and e-cigarettes back in March 2020 during the first outbreak of COVID-19 to contain the spread of the virus. Various tobacco companies and consumers had applied to court asking for the sales ban to be declared unconstitutional and invalid. The ban was lifted by the minister without a court judgment in August 2020 however, the court declared the Dlamini-Zuma’s regulation inconsistent with the constitution and invalid in December 2020, according to Times Live.

The latest judgement from the SCA states that the minister would have had to have shown that banning smoking during the lockdown would have reversed or reduced the risk of contracting a severe form of COVID-19 and that this was not the case.

With regard to the legal costs incurred by tobacco companies, farmers and consumers, the SCA said the Biowatch principle applied. The principle states that “in constitutional litigation between a private party and the state the general rule is that the private party should have its costs paid by the state and if unsuccessful, each party should pay its own costs.”