BATSA fails in its legal challenge to tobacco law

Constitutional Court upholds constitutionality of the law banning tobacco advertising British American Tobacco South Africa’s (BATSA) plans to recruit new generations of teenage smokers, through multimillion rand advertising campaigns, were dealt a deadly blow by the Constitutional Court on 7 August 2012.

The Constitutional Court has denied the country’s largest cigarette manufacturer leave to appeal against an order made by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), Bloemfontein. In June, the SCA had ruled that a ban on the advertising and promotion of tobacco products under the Tobacco Products Control Act was “reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society”.

The Constitutional Court upheld the SCA ruling. After examining the cigarette company’s application for leave to appeal the judgement it “concluded that the application should be dismissed with costs as there are no prospects of success”.

The SCA in its judgement found that there were powerful public health considerations for a ban on the advertising and promotion of tobacco products and that the seriousness of the dangers of smoking far outweigh the interests of smokers as a group or the commercial interests of BATSA.

The National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), which had joined the case as a friend of the court, is delighted with the ruling. "We welcome the Constitutional Court's decision, which confirms our confidence that the country’s tobacco control laws are fair, reasonable and based on solid science. The freedom of teenagers to grow up healthily is more important than the freedom of the tobacco companies to advertise a deadly addiction,” said NCAS executive director, Dr Yussuf Saloojee. “The importance of this ruling is that it will help keep youngsters from the clutches of the tobacco industry.  The industry’s own documents show that they view teenagers as ‘replacement smokers” for those adults killed by cigarettes,” Saloojee continued. “Sadly, however, the ruling will not stop the cigarette manufacturers from finding new ways of attracting and addicting children to cigarettes. It is an on-going struggle. He also added, “Each time laws regulating tobacco use are proposed the tobacco companies and their allies bray that the laws are unfair and unconstitutional. Currently, there is much hullabaloo surrounding the proposed regulations controlling smoking in public spaces. Yet, on the only occasion that the courts have actually tested the tobacco law it has been to be reasonable and justifiable,”

For further information please contact: Dr Yussuf Saloojee, 011 725- 1514 or 076 633 5322


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