Tue, 11 Aug 2020

Cigarette ban is supported by science, govt argues in court

"It should be accepted as such."

"Cigarettes are not banned forever in our country. The ban will be lifted."

Ramaphosa was also asked about the rationale of unbanning alcohol sales.

He said the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) discussed this extensively, and thought that the alcohol ban should be lifted at Level 3.

Economy

He said they also opened other areas of the economy, as they couldn't keep the economy closed forever.

"Life could go on, but under restrictions," he said.

He said after the alcohol ban was lifted, the "ugly side of our social life" reared its head, with the "excessive abuse of alcohol which led to other social ills".

He said there was a rise in road accidents and violence, which clogged hospitals' emergency rooms, which were empty while alcohol was banned.

"This is regrettable, deeply regrettable," Ramaphosa said.

He said South Africa is one of the countries with the highest levels of alcohol consumption.

"We cannot ban alcohol forever."

He said where alcohol had been banned, it led to the illicit trade of alcohol, giving rise to a host of other problems.

The ban on the sale of tobacco products has been one of the burning issues of the lockdown. An argument often raised against it, is that the ban fuels the illicit cigarette trade.

Infections

In his opening remarks, Ramaphosa noted the rapid rise of Covid-19 infections - confirmed infections have breached the 150 000 mark, a third of those in just the past week.

He said the government's scientists had warned about this happening.

"The reality is, we could not remain in lockdown forever," he said. "People need to earn a living."

"Our healthcare facilities are under a great deal of pressure."

He called on South Africans to accept the reality that the pandemic is nowhere near its end, and he implored people to continue with the necessary precautions.

"We have to live with this virus until a vaccine is found."

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