Bulgaria - Fake Victory Light cigarettes..

August 1, 2009 - Fake Victory Light cigarettes are in circulation on the Bulgarian market, and batches of them were intercepted in Kyustendil and Blagoevgrad, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) said on July 28 2009.

Bulgartabak Holding, maker of Victory Light - long the brand leader among smokers in Bulgaria said the apparent discrepancies are in the packaging, ingredients and the lack of an excise stamp.

Peripherally, the differences are only visible with the Victory logo, which on the original cigarettes is printed on the filter whereas on the fake ones is on the stem of the cigarette. After chemical and physical analysis, it was revealed that the bogus cigarettes are made of low-grade tobacco, of which "the bare minimum was used". Subsequently, they caused hoarseness, a bad after-taste, increased irritation, "burning sensations", and bitterness. Moreover, nicotine levels grossly exceeded the acceptable norms.

"The fakes have darker type of tobacco, with a strange scent to it," said Antonio Zashev, head of Technological and Quality Control at Bulgartabak. Bulgartabak said that the fake cigarettes could prove to be very dangerous.

"The worst part of the matter is that we don't know where they come from and what's inside," said Ivan Bilarev, executive manager of Bulgartabak Holding. He said that the fakes could harm the image of the Victory brand and that "anything lacking an excise stamp is a serious blow to the state budget".

Reference: Fake and dangerous Victory Light cigarettes on the Bulgarian market by Nick Iliev, the Sofia Echo, 7/29/2009.

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