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Excise duty on tobacco products - tax policy and health effects in Bulgaria

Vanina Keranova, Elena Georgieva, Liubomira Koeva-Dimitrova, Mincho Minev


Introduction: Alongside the fiscal role, the taxation over cigarettes is expected to reduce smoking. The need for effective excise duty is particularly substantial in Bulgaria as it is the county with the biggest share of active smokers in Europe. Our aim is to test the effectiveness of some aspects of the cigarette tax policy in Bulgaria and to suggest ways for its improvement.

Materials and methods: A literature review and a quantitative sociological survey have been per­formed. We conducted a survey using a questionnaire among 120 active smokers in December 2017. The vast majority of the respondents are between twenty and fifty years old, mostly living in Varna.

Results: Despite the increase in the excise duty and the prices of tobacco products, around 70% of re­spondents continue to smoke the same price-class cigarettes. Around 30% of the passionate smokers, who are influenced by the price of cigarettes, prefer to switch to lower-priced cigarettes rather than to quit smoking. The new alternative, heated tobacco products are proven to be a good substitute for current tobacco products and around 40% of the respondents are likely to switch to them.

Conclusion: Results show that the current cigarette tax policy in Bulgaria fails to provide the expect­ed effectiveness. It should be considered that the sole measure of increasing excise rates does not sig­nificantly change the behaviour of the smokers. More active campaigns to address the disadvantages of smoking and the benefits of a healthier lifestyle are requested. The revenue from excises should be invested primarily in preventive activities and various non-smoking campaigns.


health effects; excise duty; tobacco products



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