South Africa

BLSA backs call to lift bans on sale of alcohol, cigarettes

JOHANNESBURG - Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) has thrown its weight behind the call to lift the ban on the sales of tobacco products and alcohol.

The organisation said that it supported the mounting demands for government to rethink its decision on the ban in order to steer South Africa’s economy back on the path to recovery.

This comes after the South African Medical Research Council, among numerous other bodies, recommended the sale of liquor and cigarettes resume as there was no extreme pressure on hospital resources to treat COVID-19 patients.

BLSA said that despite government’s reasoning, unintended consequences following the cigarette and alcohol ban had caused harm that far outweighed whatever positive results government had hoped to achieve.

Tebele Luthuli, the organisation’s director of policy and legislation, said that the lockdown made it even more profitable to trade in illegal tobacco and alcohol products, with criminal syndicates benefiting at the expense of legitimate businesses.

“Illicit trade, possible job losses and the recent announcement by SAB rethinking their investments in the country… it’s time for government to be nimble.”

The organisation also pleaded with government to be flexible as it desperately needed every cent through tax revenue to rebuild the shattered economy once this pandemic was over.

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