Cigarette firm opts for courts

BRITISH American Tobacco of South Africa has applied to the Pretoria high court to overrule Parliament and allow it to keep advertising cigarettes to teenagers.

BRITISH American Tobacco of South Africa has applied to the Pretoria high court to overrule Parliament and allow it to keep advertising cigarettes to teenagers.

In 2001, cigarettes companies were banned from advertising on billboards, in cinemas and on radio.

Last year, Parliament amended the Tobacco Products Control Act to outlaw the "smoking parties" organised by the industry. These changes came into operation on August 21.

National Council Against Smoking's Dr Yussuf Saloojee said: "Since the early 2000s, the cigarette companies have reportedly employed 'sexy twenty-somethings' and sent them with a car-load of free cigarettes on a tour of SA's pubs, universities and colleges where they encourage youngsters to sign up for the party of a lifetime.

"Free food, alcohol and cigarettes are served," said Saloojee.

The company wants the Act amended to allow one-to-one communication with consenting adult smokers.

BATSA's legal director Salim Young says: "We have on various occasions engaged with various regulators including the department of health on this matter in an attempt to avert any legal action.

"Our preference is still to resolve the matter amicably and through negotiation, but at this stage we have no option but to litigate."

Health department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said: "We are opposing them. It's our duty to protect young people from tobacco.

"The Constitution calls on us to protect South Africans."

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