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Fita: Tobacco is a stimulant, much like coffee

Argues that it should have been listed in the grocery category.
Denying access to such products is detrimental to the emotional wellbeing of consumers, resulting in ‘restlessness, irritability, stress and unhappiness’. Image: Daniel Acker, Bloomberg

In what might be the biggest court battle between the government and corporate South Africa amid the pandemic, the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) argued before three judges in the Pretoria High Court on Wednesday that the ban on tobacco sales is unjustified and without reasonable evidence stopped people from smoking.

Fita represents the entire value chain for tobacco and vaping products including the agricultural, manufacturing, retail and consumer sectors.

Fita’s legal representative, Advocate Arnold Subel, put it to the court that tobacco products provide relevant consumers with the same effect and pleasure as coffee, as consumed by people daily, which is why it should have been included under essential products.

Read: Dlamini-Zuma told to amend invalid lockdown regulations

“Many users develop routines and rituals associated with the use of these goods that are highly significant to the users and provide comfort and enjoyment; people make use of these goods because they find them pleasurable and useful,” he said.

“Nicotine is one of the major chemical components in tobacco and vaping products, while caffeine is one of the major chemical components in coffee,” said Subel, adding that nicotine and caffeine are both plant alkaloids that act on the central nervous system.

Read: Court cases are piling up against government lockdown

‘Calming effect’

He said they are both stimulants, with nicotine producing a calming effect. This is why tobacco and vaping products and caffeine are “significant to the users” and provide them with comfort and enjoyment to help them cope in stressful circumstances.

Subel explained that the denial of access to tobacco and vaping products is detrimental to the emotional wellbeing of regular users and can be expected to result in “increasing restlessness, irritability, anger, stress and unhappiness”.

“Many consumers use tobacco and vaping products for pleasure to manage or relieve stress during their daily lives.”

Subel strengthened his case by saying it was unrealistic for the government – referring to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s public announcement – to justify the cigarette ban by saying that people would stop smoking.

“It might, in her world, be an answer to stop people smoking – but that is in a make-believe world,” he said.

“To imagine in the real world that you are going to stop people smoking through this ban is entirely far-fetched. The golden thread here is an incontrovertible fact that banning is not going to stop the supply.”

Subel argued that the ban on the sale of cigarettes has had a negative impact on the “poorest of the poor” as they have to buy cigarettes at black market prices.

However, state lawyer Advocate Marumo Moerane argued that the ban has been successful in both reducing access to cigarettes and in getting smokers to quit.

According to Subel, fewer than 2 000 people were in favour of the ban remaining in force, while more than 600 000 people had signed a petition in favour of the sale of cigarettes.

Impact on employment

Subel said the prohibition of the sale of tobacco and vaping products has had a massive impact on all participants in the supply chain.

“While the tobacco farmers are permitted by the regulations to harvest and store their crops, they are unable to find local buyers for those crops while the prohibition on the sale of tobacco products remains in place,” Subel said.

Read: Batsa questions indefinite tobacco ban

He said 90% of their produce is sold locally and that there are more than 200 commercial farmers and over 150 emerging farmers producing tobacco in South Africa.

These farmers provide jobs to approximately 8 000 people supporting more than 30 000 dependants, primarily in rural areas where employment opportunities are limited.

“This jeopardises the ability for these farmers to provide for [their] workers,” Subel said.

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo said he would advise the parties when the judgment is ready. While the matter was heard in open court, the judgment will be handed over in a private sitting.

Listen to Nompu Siziba’s interview with Fita chair Sinenhlanhla Mnguni:




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Anyone out there who smokes their coffee?

Didn’t the cigarette companies make an observation that the threat of continues ban on the sale of cigarette is that many people will quit?

In other words it is bad for their business when more people try to stay healthy and quit smoking. So, they need to keep providing people this drug (he calls it a stimulant) so that they can continue with their learned helplessness!

It may be lost in translation, but cigarettes kill people (or smoking), and I have yet to find empirical evidence that coffee kills just as many people. So, this guy is just bloviating and fudging, at the least. He is as dishonest as they come, you should not be wasting our time with his nonsense. I know you’ll say he has a right to free speech and all that rubbish but he should pay us to listen to this kind of clap trap – it kind of leaves you one 1 IQ point stupider after you listen to him.

That is not the point. The point is that consumers have a choice and that choice has been taken away without a rational basis. Caffeine is also a drug, as is sugar, and when abused are harmful to your health. The advocate is just making an argument for the irrationality of the government singling out tobacco.

I totally agree with the case made by Fita and in any case Diabetes, TB, Malaria, HIV, STD’s, over-weight, heart diseases, nutritional deficient diets, the annual common flue, etc are all independently a much higher health risk than COVID-19. If government wants to cherry pick which diseases or habits they wish to interfere in, they should start with the highest risk categories first – namely junk-food and diabetes. This is a democratic country with human rights, liberties and protection of dignity. Some smoke, others pick their nose or scratch in their behinds and even more over-consume on junk-food or alcohol. Where do you draw the line? It’s a matter of personal choice. Finish and klaar.

I totally agree with the case of FITA and in any case Diabetes, Heart diseases, Malaria, TB, HIV, STD’s, Obesity, nutritional deficient diets, stress-related illnesses, the annual common flue, etc are all independently more harmful and a higher risk in relation to the effects of Covid-19 thus far.
If government wish to cherry pick which disease or which habit they are going to interfere in – they should at least start with the ones with the highest risk history, namely diabetes, obesity, junk-food consumption and alcohol abuse. This is a democratic country with human rights, liberties and protection of dignity.
Where do you draw the line? Their draconian and communistic interference in basic human rights are the biggest risk of all. It is a matter of personal choice. Finish and klaar.

Your last sentence explains your argument then. We do not, under any circumstances, need a nanny state. We have the right to kill ourselves in any way we want. Today it is tobacco, tomorrow alcohol, then come fats and sugar, maybe t-shirts without cardigans. Fear a government that strangles you “for your own good”. This case is about civil liberties vs a dictatorship. We seem to have had a silent coup de etat.

Blah Blah blind idealistic fools,

Sure I want my cocaine, meths, tik, heroin,

unban sale of narcotics everything now immediately please!!!

Well,no. If indeed we have a right to kill ourselves in any way we want, it is subject to the rights of others. Most of us would have a problem with an opium den next door or a suicide bomber expressing himself at the local shopping centre. It’s not really about a nanny state, it’s about using the pandemic as a Trojan horse for other agendas which the regime wouldn’t want to be seen pursuing in normal circumstances.

You don’t need government? And that is a rational decision or view point? You do not need a nanny state. Oh, ja well – beam me up Scottie, there is no sign of intelligent life down here!

Do you guys realize just how many lives have been saved with the lockdown? Well some of you will argue that ‘you can’t prove what did not happen, and that is usually true. But in this case we are able to extrapolate from data samples and previous encounters.

For one, we have some of the very people who are complaining about ‘govt. this, govt that’, who are here today because of that same government! these people ought to have died weeks ago. if, it were not for ‘the government’ imposing the lockdown. They’d have died in car accidents and we would have had them buried by now and done with their silly arguments and funny noises. But instead ‘thanks to the government for nothing’ we have them roamng around here and not resting eternally in their graves.

How do we know? compare stats during the lockdown period and ordinary times and reach a conclusion. and that is thousands of lives saved, I am not even referring to people who did not catch covid-19 or die from it. I am not even talking about those with COPD because of yeas of smoking and exposure to iiritants there in who have lived months longer with cleaner air due to the cigarette and tobacco ban. Look at the stats for answers, real conrete answers.

Granted the impact of lockdowns on the economy are going to be severe but also quantifiable. But people will be alive and with life there is a chance, every time. When you are dead is another story. Don’t take my word for it, look around the world and see how covid-19 works out if you have a government e.g. New Zealand and when you have no government or irresponsible government like in the US and Brazil.

Before I go. do any of you have your own sewage systems? How about your own national highways? A the risk of being redundant, how about your own heatlh departments? I don;t suppose so. Did’nt think so. And yet you ask, ‘What do we need government for?’ t the height of your rationality and sanity!

I rest my case.

Beam me up Scottie, I beg of you…this s insufferable…beam me up already

I probably would smoke my coffee if I could. Both are delicious. I do however vape coffee flavoured eliquids at times. And since vaping has a 95% lower harm rate than cigarette smoking, it is completely absurd to lump eliquid into the generalised “tobacco products” list.

Caffeine has the same risks that vaping nicotine has. It’s a vasoconstrictor. But you’re right, that’s not especially harmful for most people. The part where coffee does however become a deadly drug though, is when you add those 1 or 2 spoons of sugar. Sugar kills far more people that smoking does.

Sugar also causes, amongst other things, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 3 of the top 5 comorbidities.
Smoking causes lung disease and cardiovascular disease. 2 of the top 5 comorbidities. But it also reduces obesity. So averaged out, lets call it 1.

So compared, smoking is far less hazardous. Also, all studies so far have shown people who use nicotine products have far lower rates of infection. Covid-19s binds to the same receptors that nicotine does. The nicotine confuses the virus, that then doesn’t know how to bind.
WHO however banned the studies being published for very obvious reasons. Yes, smoking is bad for you. They weigh up the pros and cons, and can’t very well advise everyone to take up smoking to avoid a virus. But for existing smokers, well, we have a protection. A highly significant protection.

Oh, and then there’s human rights that shouldn’t infringed on by communist dictators.

BageSuge, well there is plenty of evidence that sugar and its direct link to diabetes and obesity kills just as many people, if not more than, nicotine. In fact, these are the people dying of Covid-19! Should we ban all sweets, cool drinks, biscuits and chocolates? Your argument is nonsense!

The point of the matter is that the “Council” is playing head boy over us.

They have absolutely no right to take away anyones choice, be it good or bad for your health, thats irrelevant

If these Draconian style BIG BROTHETS and SISTER get away with this one, we’re in for a Socialist Style of Governance.

Already we are forced by law not to travel beyond our border, no socializing, no personal care treatment, no sneezing and no smoking

Yet the underworld is thriving and making a killing at the detriment of the very people the “Council” supposedly wants to protect

They disallow rural policing of farms and other forums having removed the right to protection

Of late more people have been murdered than Covid has killed smokers due to the above

If the courts cannot see the hidden agenda, this country is heading in the wrong direction

Lets pray that sanity prevails in the courts and that Comrade Zuma starts smoking..Perhaps she, like 11 million smokers will realise what it’s like having no freedom of choice

(Incidentally, i’m a non smoker..our freedom of choice must remain intact and protected at all costs.. no one person or Government has the right to take it from me..We do not live in N Korea or China for that matter)

“While the matter was heard in open court, the judgment will be handed over in a private sitting”.

To hide the possible fact that someone who has still to be named has been benefiting from the illegal sales of tobacco products while the police have not stopped that activity. Thats why.

The question nobody seems to be asking is, how much longer do we need to go with the lockdowns until there are zero restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, and beauticians left out there? And when we get to zero, will we then be satisfied?

We’ve just passed the solemn milestone of 1000 covid deaths, and every one, Cyril tells us, is a tradgedy.

But every job lost, livelyhood trashed, desperate person created is just a statistic.

The government is at war with its populace and it seems it won’t be satisfied until everything lies in ruins.

You sir have hit the nail on its head.

A number of the comrades have said as much.

To add to your point, you have many government institutions that are currently closed, although they are supposed to be open. Take for instance the Cape Town Deeds Office, who only opened on 13 May, yet have been closed twice thereafter for days at a time and is currently closed again, because a member of staff knows somebody who’s oldest sister’s dog lives with a person that were married to a man who’s mother’s brother allegedly had a cough. To make matters worse, I am told these civil servants receive full salaries while they continue to “rest” at home.

Mr Navigator,
“The government is at war with its populace and it seems it won’t be satisfied until everything lies in ruins.”
You are absolute correct.
Look at history.
We can learn so much from history, but the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.

Name but one party who fought for peoples rights and after victory made a good ruling party. Churchill and Ike both lasted one term after the war.
When fighting the leaders must think one way and also there is not so much arguing with the leader.

Then comes democracy / peace.
The fighters do not know how to rule effectively in a democracy.
They will change all previous systems to their way of thinking.
And they will query the leader’s action more and more.
Then the ruling party starts fighting amongst themselves, and there’s no energy left to rule the country.
Plus the sentiment of the leaders do not change overnight.
We will run schools our way.
We will run Escom our way.
We will run SAA our way.
We will run ……….

You know the biggest injustice you can do to a person is not discrimination, but if you bugger up his upbring and his education.
Because then he does not know any better.
Look at countries who increased pumping in an enormous amount of resources into education. a Drastic change for the better happens. Look at south Korea for example.

Me Zuma don’t like cigarettes, and that is her right.
She said that rolling and passing a zol from person to person will spread the virus.
BUT I’m trying to understand how a virus will not spread when passing a tin of Coke or a bottle of bear around.
No I’m not a smoker, but please explain the rule to me. I want to understand it. Not some drivel like I may not buy open shoes, but I may wear them if I already own them.

a Leader in a fisical fight and a leader in a democracy think different.

Which begs the question – can you afford your sentiment?

They have been breaking everything they lay their hands on since 1994, why stop now.

1000 dead each one a tragedy.

Of that 1000 how many had Aids, TB, Heart problems, kidney or any other health problem. How many black? How many white? Of the latest deaths how many were starving?

Then there is the small matter of 8000 plus farmers brutally killed trying to feed the nation. Sorry, forgot that is not a tragedy nor did it ever happen. CR New York 2017. They were white.

They missing the point. I do not smoke cigarettes because I made that choice, I do not need nor want the government to decide this for me. Everyone in this country smoker or non smoker should support the lifting of this ban else you are handing over your decisions to a government. When this precedence manifests itself you might just find yourselves without freedom of speech, without freedom of movement, without freedom of religion, without freedom and justice. Starting to sound familiar ??

Tobacco may well be a stimulant. It is also a legal habitual drug. It is harmful to
o the user and harmful to those who are not users but breath the air in the vicinity of of smoker. The passive smokers. It smells bad and the only benefit from selling legal cigarettes is the excise tax the government receive into the tax coffers from legal sales ONLY. Kissing a smoker is like kissing an ashtray. I would be comfortable if medical aids excluded smoking related illnesses from the benefits received from medical aids just as life insurers restrict cover from clients with extra risks such as parachuting and light aircraft flying and even occupations like mining as too risky to cover without an excessive extra cost.

Can we also exclude sugar-related illnesses?

I’ll listen on the radio.

Alchol is also a legal habitual drug. It is harmful to the user and harmful to those who are not users but suffer the consequences of their behaviour when in their vicinity. It semlls bad and the only benefit from selling legal alcohol is the excise tax the governmentreceive into the tax coffers from legal sales only. Kissing an alcoholic is like kissing a beer can. I would be comfortable if medical aids excluded drinking related illnesses from the benefits received from medical aids just as life insurers restrict cover from clients with extra risks sich as parachuting and light aircraft flying and even occupations like mining as too risky to cover without an excessive extra cost.

Which do you want to do next? Sugary drinks?

If my medical aid and life assurance can be cheaper if they reduce certain risks, then yes. Sugary drinks is a cheap shot as would be a restriction on one ply toilet paper.

I have never kissedan ashtray, but I’ll bow to your superior knowledge.

Cigarettes are besides the point, the most interesting thing was watching this advocate bumble, stutter and “bearwithme”.

This performance is going to get paid by the taxpayer at, what? R6000 an hour if not more.

So they thought by cutting off the cigarette supply they seriously are going to prevent smokers catching severe COVID-19 and burdening the health system. Daft logic.

The judge made a good point. If it is about the harmful effects of smoking, why was smoking itself not made illegal? Why just the sale of tobacco products?

Prohibition never worked in the 1920s(USA) and i doubt it will ever work on any sort of stimulant goods.

This country is too quick to learn from history as far as social injustices are concerned but yet completely disregard lessons from history for the sake of the economy and the well being of so many individuals and businesses.

Prohibition on stimulant goods does not work. It does not save lives and serves as a catalyst in damaging the economy!

It is a medical fact that for the under 65’s the most at risk of dying from COVID-19 are those with (per the CDC):
1 Lung Disease and asthma
2 Searious Heart Disease
3 Immunicompromised (HIV etc)
4 Liver and Kidney Disease
5 Diabetes
6 Severe Obesity

Now, if the good minister believes that smoking contributes to Condition 1 (and maybe 2) above, to such and extend that a ban is necessary as to prevent an overrun of the hospitals. And, that she believes the immediate cessation of smoking will have a miracle immediate effect on this outcome,


Is Fast Food and Sugary Confectionary also not banned? It will immediately address Conditions 5 & 6, and equally help out the medical facitlities.

Over and above the encrougement of our civil libirties, it is these IRRATIONAL and INCONSISTENT thought processes that cannot help one reach for more sinister conclusions. As we all know that there is not such an established Fast Food and Chocolate illicate trade black market to profit from.

(From a non-smoker, but chocolate lover)

Let’s call a spade a spade because quite frankly everyone seems to be dodging the real point here.
Why is this government challenging this number one, and number two why continue the lockdown with ludicrous rules, for example not opening up golf courses but you can climb into a taxi in close proximity of others or walk through a shopping mall with thousands of others?
The answer: because they can and have another agenda.
Covid-19 has played wonderfully into their hands paving a way towards a dictatorship and allowing them to further flex their socialistic arm.
Anyone else have any ideas why they’re persisting with this nonsensical lockdown?

Agree control and with it comes access to loot they have not got their hands on yet.

We all know the deal. NDZ had an axe to grind with smoking and sadly (the weak) CR let her use the COVID-19 crisis to let her be spiteful Simple as that.

End of comments.





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