Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has a tough job, and the nation will be reminded of this today as the minister makes his annual budget speech. Saving the country’s embattled state-owned enterprises such as the national airline carrier and Eskom may be at the top of his list. But in an era of tight budgets and rising disease rates, Mboweni’s speech should also focus on something else: tobacco taxes. Under apartheid, the government had a cosy relationship with the tobacco industryand tobacco control policies were nearly non-existent, the authors of a 2003 World Bank book argue. But since the advent of democracy, the government has consistently increased excise taxes, on tobacco goods each year.