British American Tobacco South Africa has decided not to pursue legal action against the government for banning tobacco sales during the lockdown.

In a statement released on Wednesday, BATSA said it has received a formal response to a letter sent on the 30 April 2020 to the relevant Ministers in the National Command Council.

“Having considered the response from the government and noting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s public statement of Monday, May 4, as a business, we have taken the decision not to pursue legal action at this stage but, instead, to pursue further discussions with the government on the formulation and application of the regulations under the Covid-19 lockdown,” the statement read.

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The cigarette company said it was convinced that talks with the government would help to find a working solution and remove the threat of criminal sanction from 11 million tobacco consumers in the country.

"We urge the government to consider an approach that will address their concerns while also ensuring legitimate businesses can contribute to this country’s economy and future growth. The illicit traders are the only beneficiaries of the ban on tobacco sales."

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, commissioner of the SA Revenue Service, Edward Kieswetter, told Parliamentarians that cigarettes were still being sold and that there could be a shortfall of R285 billion in tax revenues.