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The finance minister’s recent budget was SA’s most important in years. Tito Mboweni faces a tricky balancing act. Spending and economic pressures from the pandemic have caused government debt to soar to 80% of GDP in 2020/2021, up from 66% the year before. Mboweni is therefore looking for new sources of cash. One area that has been mooted is a new excise on e-cigarettes. Because only VAT is levied on e-cigarettes, a new excise would undoubtedly bolster the public purse. But there are salutary lessons from the EU, where member states are still grappling with how best to tax e-cigarettes, that the SA authorities would do well to consider.