Raising awareness against TAPS in Bulgaria
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Chair of the Board, Smoke-free Life Coaliton, Bulgaria
Senior Advoacy Expert, Smoke-free Life Coalition, Executive Editor, BlueLink Foundation, Bulgaria
Senior Policy Expert, Smoke-free Life Coalition, Bulgaria
Project coordinator, Smoke-free Life Coalition, Bulgaria
Publication date: 2018-06-13
Corresponding author
Pavel Antonov   

Senior Advoacy Expert, Smoke-free Life Coalition, Executive Editor, BlueLink Foundation, Bulgaria
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2018;4(Supplement):A76
A case study from Bulgaria demonstrates lessons learned from building awareness against TAPS from zero in a TI-dominated political and media environment. Unexpectedly quick reaction by supportive lawmakers and energetic voluntary involvement of creative professionals for high level media campaign caught united TI front groups and lobby by surpise. But a united TI lobbyists' counter-offensive blocked legislative proposals for TAPS ban submission. Lessons learned in Bulgaria can be useful and appropriate for many countries where the tobacco advertisements still exist.

This review of lessons learned in Bulgaria, employing action-research, analyzes the steps and actions taken over a year by the Smoke-free Life Coalition in Bulgaria to facilitate the submission to Parliament of a legislative proposal for a ban of TAPS. While the proposal was eventually withdrawn, the paper explores lessons learned from:

- start-up public awareness raising for a comprehensive TAPS;
- employing links to public debate over related tobacco control legislation's enforcement (such as control and enforcement of the comprehensive smoking ban in public places);
- familiarizing MPs with legislative changes and structuring supportive documentation and evidence; attracting wide media attention in increasingly hostile media environment, dominated by TI-related ownership;
- tactics in public/Parliamentary hearings; engaging with state institutions; and
- desihning and implementing a high-visibility campaign in support of a TAPS ban, to gain public and media attention.

The paper reports the outcomes from two Impact Assessments - on TAPS ban and enforcement of Total Smoking Ban in public places, conducted during 2016 - 2017. Outcomes show that the state budget relies on "toxic money" while the macro-economy of Bulgaria losses from tobacco consumption double that the budget benefits from excise duties on cigarettes. The Impact Assessment on total smoking ban enforcement showed that the money invested in better control of the total ban are not lost money.
The paper builds up on previously reported findings about TI arguments employed against TAPS ban (ENSP 2017).

Funding: The reported research and activities were performed as part of a project of the Smoke-free Life Coalition, Bulgaria, supported by The Union against Tuberculoses and Lung Disease.
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