British American Tobacco Bulgaria comments the record low levels of illicit trade in 2019
Interview with Mila Marechkova, Head of Marketing Operations in British American Tobacco Bulgaria:
The most recent results of the Empty Pack Survey that measures the levels of illegal trade in our country were just presented. How will you comment on them?
The data is from an independent study conducted by Nielsen and organized by five tobacco companies that are part of the Illicit Trade Initiative, including British American Tobacco Bulgaria. The research has been conducted since 2010 and measures the level of illicit trade of cigarettes in the country by collecting and analyzing empty cigarette packs every quarter.
We have presented the most recent results for this year and once again they confirm the tendency of maintaining low levels, as well as register the lowest share so far – namely 3.4% by mid-2019 compared to morethan 30% in the past years. In the same time, if we are to compare our country on this indicator with other Member States within EU where the same research is conducted, Bulgaria is again with the lowest levels.
What we have achieved so far is an example of the strong commitment and work of both the government and all law enforcement agencies based ontheir effective collaboration. All of this has led to these extremely low levels of illegal trade in the country, for which we would like to thank them. In this regard, we also welcome the initiated changes to the Penal Code that followed the raided illegal factories in the country. Reducing illegal trade protects the market from products of unclear origin while it also increases the revenue in the state budget.
I believe that in this regard the work and the collaboration between the state institutions and the industry will continue in the future, too.
The so called Track and Trace system has been launched in the EU this year. What are your observations on the matter and has it been successfully implemented in Bulgaria?
We have to note that our country was among the first ones in the EU to implement the system on time. This happened thanks to the excellent work of the respective institutions in our country – the Ministry of Finance, Customs Agency and BNB’s Printing house. This included issuing unique identifier codes for the packs and an especially appointed for the purpose issuer of the codes for the market in our country.
This is one of the largest systems in the EU that is implemented in our industry. It entered into force as of 20th May this year and captured cigarettes and smoking tobacco with the main aim to tackle the illicit trade. Thanks to it the movement of every consumer pack can be traced from the manufacturer to the first retail outlet at the respective market where the product is being sold.
What’s your view on the future of the tobacco industry?
During the last couple of years, the tobacco industry has undergone major changes in terms of new and additional regulations as well as latest trends that can be observed. At the moment we are in a new era of development in our long-standing history as a company. This is why, for example, a part of BAT’s job throughout the years was and still is focused on numerous innovations and researches for assessment and development of potentially risk reduced products that are part of the company’s portfolio.
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