PMI training Bulgarian custom officers to stop cigarette smuggling..

February 4, 2009 - Philip Morris International (PMI) is giving technical training to 100 customs officers from across Bulgaria, who are given the job of stopping the illegal smuggling of cigarettes into and out of the country. The customs officers will be taught how to identify different illegal types of cigarettes and will also be informed of what procedures they must follow when they find smuggled cigarettes.

Phillip Morris Determined to Become Leading Brand in Bulgaria.

Cigarette smuggling, a global problem that experts say cheats governments of tax revenues and promotes smoking by keeping supplies of cheap cigarettes on the market.
Bulgaria's arm of British American Tobacco Plc says cigarette smuggling, which stood at seven percent in the middle of the year, will double in 2009 due to the higher prices of cigarettes from next year (Monitor, 24 Chasa, Pari). Contraband cigarettes account for 15-20 percent of the market in Bulgaria (May 2008) - contraband usually increases in cases of price hikes.

Since Bulgaria entered the European Union at the start of 2007, border police have seen a huge increase in tobacco smuggling. In the first six months of 2007, more than 26,000 people were checked and 60,000 boxes of cigarettes confiscated,” said border police boss Krasimir Petrov. Most of those violations were at Dragoman and Kalotina, on the western border of Bulgaria. In previous years, he said, about 30,000 boxes were confiscated annually. (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project: Bulgarian Smuggling)

It is interesting to note back in April 2004 Philip Morris International offered $1bn (£550m) to kill off EU smuggling lawsuits. It had long been suspected that tobacco manufacturers facilitated the release of cigarettes to smuggling operations as a way of undermining government attempts to both collect revenue and reduce smoking with high taxes.

Reference: Bulgaria Customs Get Philip Morris Help to Combat Cigarette Smuggling, Sofia News Agency -, 1/28/2009.

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