Bulgaria Smokers Face Staggering Cigarette Tax Hike

Society | March 31, 2010, Wednesday // 20:00|  views

Bulgaria ranks second after Greece in the EU in terms of number of regular smokers as a percentage of the population, according to a Eurobarometer survey. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Bulgarian smokers will have to swallow a raise in excise duties on cigarettes and their prices as of April 1, as the government struggles to curb smoking and relieve the health care system.

The new prices were introduced at the beginning of the year, but the grace period for cigarettes with old excise labels expires on April 1.

Under a decision that the parliament took at the end of November, a BGN 101 excise duty for 1000 cigarettes is introduced instead of the previous BGN 41, while the proportional tax is 23% of the sales price instead of 40,5%. The latter will affect mostly expensive cigarette brands.

The tax for tobacco for pipes and cigarettes is set at BGN 100 per kg.

The new duties increase the price of a pack of cigarettes anywhere between BGN 1,10 and 1,40 making the price of the best-selling “Victory” brand BGN 4,60 instead of the current BGN 3,60.

Opponents to the tax hike claim that it will boost cigarette smuggling and may lead to the bankruptcy of the dominant state cigarette maker Bulgartabak.

Bulgaria has the second highest percentage of smokers in Europe, but has recently abandoned plans to ban smoking in all public spaces.

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