Debate on the decline in illicit tobacco trade in Bulgaria: A review of articles published in country media between 2010 and 2019
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Smoke-Free Life Coalition, Sofia, Bulgaria
Maria Sklodowska-Curie National Research Institute of Oncology, Warsaw, Poland
Collegium Civitas, Warsaw, Poland
Publication date: 2020-10-22
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2020;6(Supplement):A82
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The Bulgarian government undertook a series of tobacco control measures and policies to tackle illicit trade in tobacco products, which led to a record decline in illegal cigarette sales.

To raise awareness of research, tobacco control and public health community on a sharp decline in illicit tobacco trade in Bulgaria and to understand its potential causes.

Materials and Methods:
The qualitative analysis was based on a review of 87 Bulgarian media materials published between 2010 and 2019. These articles were identified through a related keyword search made by special media software or on the official websites of electronic media in Bulgaria.

Only a few Bulgarian media deal comprehensively with the topic of the illicit tobacco trade and try to understand the sharp decline in the business in Bulgaria after 2014. However, these media reports are mostly based on the reports prepared by government-related institutions or on the reports funded by the tobacco industry. These reports indicate that major reasons of the decline include: an effective collaboration of various in-country and international stakeholders after the accession of Bulgaria to the EU, reduction in corruption rates in Bulgaria, stronger control on the government tobacco industry and implementing the legal and economic measures to eliminate significant losses in state taxes in Bulgaria.

Current analysis shows that comprehensive, collaborative efforts can be effective in decreasing the illicit tobacco trade at the country level. However, scientific evaluation of the sharp decline in illicit tobacco trade in Bulgaria needs quantitative analysis based on comprehensive data sources, a comprehensive research approach and activities made by independent research teams.

Individual grant for academic researchers offered within the World Health Organization pilot research project on raising awareness about illicit tobacco trade in the European Union and promoting the ratification of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.