Smokers won’t huff and puff at tobacco ban protest at Union Buildings

Fita appeals ruling to lift the ban on the sale of cigarettes. Image: Moneyweb

This will be another attempt by a group putting pressure on the president to un-ban tobacco sales.

In a second attempt to get President Cyril Ramaphosa’s attention on lifting the restrictions on the sale of tobacco products, a group of smokers, calling themselves Dear Mr President, plan to picket at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon (1pm).

The group hopes their silence while at the Union Buildings on Saturday will make their presence felt, possibly highlighting their plight for tobacco product sales.

The group will have to face possible actions from police after Police Minister Bheki Cele, this week, said anyone caught buying, selling cigarettes will get a criminal record.

Speaking during a Parliamentary question and answer session on Tuesday, Cele responded to question on getting a criminal record for buying cigarette, by saying the courts had confirmed that people could not buy cigarettes and that it was illegal.

This will be another attempt by a group putting pressure on the president to un-ban tobacco sales as the matter continues in court.

In June another picket also against the ban in tobacco sales was stubbed by police before it even began.

The planned march fizzled out at the Union Buildings when police were allegedly the first to arrive at the scene.

While the ban remains one of the government’s most contentious lockdown regulations, Ramaphosa has made it clear that cigarettes will not be gone forever.

During a live public imbizo this week, he said: “Cigarettes are not banned forever in our country. The ban on cigarettes will be lifted.”

He urged South Africans to accept the ban until such time as the government deems it acceptable to lift it.

“The lockdown is still in place in terms of our regulations,” he said, reminding citizens that the national state of disaster and the rules that govern it are still in place.

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