Cigarette companies use cigarette smuggling to their advantage in Bulgaria

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The scientists from the University’s Tobacco Control Group present facts of cigarette company participation in cigarette smuggling to and through Bulgaria from 1975 onwards.

The group found internal tobacco industry papers which unveiled how cigarette companies definitely took part in the illicit import of their cigarettes into Bulgaria usually. The firms as well smuggled cigarettes through Bulgaria to other countries, such as Turkey and Italy, which formally were closed markets at that time.

The European Community filed a law-suit in 2000 against the major cigarette companies for participation in smuggling and has since came to a set of agreements with these companies on illegal trade.

But, the scientists point out resources which indicate that cigarette company participation in smuggling through and from Bulgaria carried on after the 2000 European Community law-suit and following legal agreements. They discovered that corruption and probable political participation in smuggling are also pointing concerns. They point to evidence which indicates Bulgaria’s state-owned cigarette company may have also been included in smuggling its own cigarettes for sale both within and outside Bulgaria.

Tax hikes are one of the most successful strategies of minimizing cigarette consumption and data demonstrates that large scale cigarette smuggling is unconnected to cigarette costs.

The scientists as well discovered that British American Tobacco and Philip Morris attempted to have an impact on tobacco tax policies in Bulgaria.

The study unveiled how cigarette companies lobbied Bulgarian government officials and attempted to have an impact on tobacco excise tax policy to give preference to their own brands. Interviews with Bulgarian government officials show that cigarette companies were ‘very severe’ in lobbying during Bulgaria’s adjonction to the European Union.

This is the first research to look at cigarette company impact in Bulgaria. The study, headed by Professor Anna Gilmore from the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, is determined by an examination of internal cigarette company papers and essential informant interviews.

Following the European Community law-suit in 2000 against the major cigarette companies, legal settlements were got with Philip Morris International in 2004, with Japan Tobacco International in 2007, and with Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco in 2010. These involved the companies’ agreement to stay away from taking part in or assisting the illicit trade of their products.

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