Venue: Western Hall of the Bulgarian Parliament
On 29 November 2022, a roundtable on tobacco economics and tobacco control took place in the Western Hall of the Bulgarian Parliament. Among the attendees were representatives of the Bulgarian Presidency, the Ministry of Economics, the Ministry of Health, the Customs Agency, the office of the World Health Organization in Bulgaria, the World Bank, the National Center for Public Health and Analyses, MPs from most of the parliamentary parties, and several non-governmental organizations. The Minister of Health sent an official letter of support for this event.
During the roundtable, the Bulgarian Smoke-Free Life Coalition presented the main results of the research report “Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Taxation in Bulgaria”. These results might be summarized as follows: Bulgaria tops the world rankings in mortality, while in the same time counts among the countries with the highest tobacco prevalence in the world, being the member state of the European Union with the lowest tobacco excise rates. More ambitious tobacco taxation might help limit the elevated tobacco consumption in Bulgaria, bringing multiple positive effects for public health – and considerably increasing public revenues.
In the discussion that followed the participants in the roundtable exchanged views and ideas on tobacco taxation as the major tool for tobacco control. Several MPs made commitments to seek support in their respective parliamentary groups for raising tobacco excise duties.
In the following weeks, the research report “Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Taxation in Bulgaria” was cited on several occasions in the Bulgarian Parliament during the hearings on the Public Budget for 2023. In the end, the Bulgarian Parliament approved a series of raising of excise duties for cigarettes and other tobacco products. The increase in tobacco excise duties was smaller than suggested by the Smoke-Free Life Coalition yet it was an important step in the right direction: tobacco excise duties in Bulgaria remained flat since 2018.
After the roundtable one of the parliamentary groups – “We Continue the Change” – made the commitment to work not only for raising tobacco excise duties but also for outlawing tobacco sponsorships and advertisements.
The main results of the research report were presented in person also to Rossitsa Velkova, the Bulgarian Minister of Finance. A case has been made for further raising tobacco excise duties and equalizing taxation on all kinds of tobacco products. The results of the study were also presented at the Bulgarian News Agency national press club.