Cancer and Tobacco Control

Challenge to cigarette advertising ban fails

Written by Health-e News

The Constitutional Court has denied British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) permission to appeal a court ban on advertising among and recruiting young people to the deadly habit.

The appeal comes from a 2008-amendment to the Tobacco Products Control Act that banned ‘€œviral’€ and ‘€œone-to-one’€ marketing. In 2009 BATSA applied to the North Gauteng High Court to declare the amendments to the Act as unconstitutional, or alternately to interpret the Act in a manner which would allow it to continue advertising on a one-to-one basis. BATSA’€™s appeal was rejected by the High Court in May 2011, after which it appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), which dismissed the case in June this year. The Constitutional Court has now upheld the SCA ruling.

This latest ruling means that BATSA’€™s ‘€œplans to recruit new generations of teenage smokers, through multimillion rand advertising campaigns’€ has failed, the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) said in a statement yesterday (TUES).

The Constitutional Court denied the country’€™s largest cigarette manufacturer leave to appeal against an order made by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in June that a ban on the advertising and promotion of tobacco products under the Tobacco Products Control Act was ‘€œreasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society’€.

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.

“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 Dr Yussuf Saloojee, executive director of the NCAS, which joined the case as a friend of the court.

‘€œThe 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. ‘€œSadly, 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.

‘€œEach 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,’€ said Saloojee.

Source: National Council Against Smoking

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