November 7, 2010 - Leading international companies - Philip Morris, Bulgartabac Holding, British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Tobacco have expressed their commitment to back the efforts of the Bulgarian Interior to beat down illicit cigarette trade.
Bulgaria - Director of the Customs Agency announced Bulgaria ranks 1st in Europe in seizure of contraband cigarettes..
The general managers of these tobacco companies have met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Tsvetan Tsvetanov to vow that they backed the government's actions against the cigarette black market.
Bulgaria is among the top EU (European UNION) countries in terms of illicit cigarette consumption, with approximately 1 out of 3 cigarettes coming from the black market without generating the equivalent excise and VAT taxes. As a result, despite the big excise increase on cigarettes in 2010, official data of the Ministry of Finance indicates that the loss of revenues only from unpaid excise will be BGN 700 M (502.2 M USD).
According to the latest market survey conducted in 21 cities in Bulgaria during the second half of May 2010, the non-domestic incidence has doubled since last year, reaching the level of 34%. In some cities like Pazardjik, Ruse, Varna, Shumen the illicit incidence has increased from 3 to 8 times, compared to last year, while in smaller cities, such as Kyustendil and Pernik, more than half of the cigarette market is illegal.
Reference: Tobacco Companies Back Bulgaria in Crackdown on Cigarette Black Market, Novinite.com (Sofia New Agency), 11/5/2010.