The government in September planned the tax increase as part of the a national program for combating smoking from 2007 to 2010. According to Yulii Manoilov, a representative of the National Union of Tobacco Producers, prices could go up by as much as BGN 1.05 to BGN 1.20 (USD 0.76 - 0.87) per package. A package of cigarettes produced by Bulgartabak would cost between BGN 2.75 and BGN 3.90. This price level would increase tobacco smuggling from the current 25 - 30% to 45 - 50% and the losses for the treasury would be BGN 750 to 800 million, mediapool.bg quoted Manoilov as saying.
Manoilov also said the sale of unregistered brands of cigarettes was a serious problem.
The Union of tobacco workers, part of the KNSB labour union, said it feared the government had no plan for the future of Bulgartabak. The two unions announced that in two weeks time the workers from the four Bulgartabak Holding factories would start protests against the raise in excise taxes, as they fear a rise in sales for imported cigarettes and a decrease in sales of locally produced cigarettes. (pi)