Johannesburg - The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) found on Wednesday that the health hazards of smoking outweigh the interests of smokers as a group.
The SCA dismissed an appeal against an order by the
North Gauteng High Court brought by British American Tobacco of South
The appeal concerned the proper interpretation of
section 3(1) (a) of the Tobacco Products Control Act, as amended by the
Tobacco Products Amendment Act, which relates to a prohibition on the
promotion and advertising of tobacco products.
Batsa approached the high court for a proper interpretation of section three of the act.
It argued that in terms of section 16 of the constitution, the impugned prohibition limits the company's right to
engage in commercial expression and the right to freedom of expression
of tobacco consumers.
Batsa further argued tobacco consumers were denied the right to receive information concerning tobacco products.
It sought a high court order that the impugned
provision did not apply to one-to-one communications between tobacco
manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers, and consenting
adult tobacco consumers.
The SCA said the appeal was whether the limitations
were reasonable and justifiable in an open democratic society. This
included the nature and extent of the limitations as required by section
36 of the constitution.
The court held it had to consider the rights of smokers
to receive information concerning the tobacco product and the
government's obligation to take steps to protect its citizens from the
hazardous and damaging effects of tobacco.
It found there were powerful public health
considerations for a ban on advertising and promoting tobacco products,
and that the seriousness of the hazards of smoking far outweighed the
interests of smokers as a group.
The SCA further held that South Africa also had international law obligations to ban tobacco advertising and promotion.
The judgment found the prohibition on advertising and
promotion of tobacco products was reasonable and justifiable as required
by the constitution.