Bulgaria's Full Smoking Ban to Fuel Smuggling - AnalystHealth | May 7, 2012, Monday // 16:49| views
Bulgaria’s crack-down on smokers date back to 2005, when a partial smoking ban was introduced only to be widely ignored. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency
Bulgaria's organized crime will see their old favorite - illegal cigarette sales - boom after smoking is banned in all enclosed public spaces as of June 1, an expert has warned.
The smoking ban will come into force in Bulgaria as of June 1 2012 and will be applied also in cafes, bars and restaurants, regardless of size.
"The ban on smoking in all enclosed public places will lead to an even greater increase in cigarette smuggling and will weaken the flow of revenues to the budget," argues Tihomir Bezlov, an expert from the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD).
He pointed out that taxes from tobacco products account for 10% of budget revenues (compared with about 1.4% in many other EU countries), which makes the country's finances highly dependent on that market.
"I'm amazed how simplified the smoking ban issue is being presented in Bulgaria," he added.
A report by CSD presented last month says that when excise taxes went up cigarettes in Bulgaria became, in relative terms, the most expensive in the EU.
The illegal market accounts for 30% to 40% of all cigarettes sold, and is worth probably around EUR 250 M, the report says. It estimates that about 500,000 packs of illegal cigarettes are sold every day in Bulgaria.
The full smoking ban in closed public spaces was to be enforced in 2010, but was postponed by the government with the argument that it might harm the country's tourism.
According to the latest data, approximately 39% of Bulgarians are smokers. Some 60% are said to be in favor of the introduction of a full smoking ban in closed public spaces.
Bulgaria's crack-down on smokers date back to 2005, when a partial smoking ban was introduced only to be widely ignored.