British American Tobacco South Africa (PTY) Limited v. Minister of Health, et al.
British American Tobacco South Africa Limited (BAT) sued the Minister of Health and others claiming that the Tobacco Products Control Act was unconstitutional. BAT claimed that the Act, which prohibits the advertising or promotion of tobacco products, violated their freedom of expression by denying them the ability to communicate one-to-one with adult consumers and violating the right of consumers to receive information concerning tobacco products. BAT lost at the trial court and appealed. To determine if the limitation on speech was justified, the Appeals Court balanced the right of smokers to receive information concerning tobacco products against the government’s obligation to take steps to protect its citizens from the dangers of tobacco. The Court found that the hazards of smoking far outweigh the interests of the smokers as a group, so the limitation was justified. Further, the Court stated that South Africa is a Party to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and is obliged to have regard for the requirements of that treaty, specifically Article 13, which requires that Parties ban all tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. For these reasons, the lower court’s decision was affirmed.
BAT appealed to the Constitutional Court. The Court dismissed the appeal because the company had no prospects of success.