Government alluded some of its reasons for banning the sale of cigarettes during the lockdown was the fear that the products would lead to high transmissions of COVID-19.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Tuesday said she and her Cabinet colleagues had chosen to protect lives, more especially poor communities.
This was part of her submission following a court application by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA), which is challenging the constitutionality of the ban by the NCC.
Dlamini-Zuma on court papers said people were more likely to share cigarettes, hookah pipes, zol, lighters, and matchboxes in poor communities.
She justified this by explaining that in South Africa, the practice of puffing and sharing and “roll your own tobacco” involves the use of saliva as an adhesive.
The minister said during a pandemic, this trend increases the risk of cross-infection.
In the supplementary documents submitted to the court by FITA, they share emails by people in support of the re-opening of sales who argued that the government had taken away their right to self-determination.
Dlamini-Zuma also addressed concerns around addiction and withdrawal, saying these were considered and the government was worried about the concerns of those who were finding it difficult to abstain from smoking.