Limiting the influence of TI in the health policies

Total Smoking Ban in public places was introduce in Bulgaria in 2012 but it is not implemented effectively because of the lack of political will and breaches in the law. The existing text are unclear, lack key definitions and the implementation and control by the controlling bodies is very limited. Since the introduction of the Total Smoking Ban until now, there has been a constant pressure and lobbying from the TI and its front groups with the legislative and executive bodies.

Tobacco products advertising is banned in print and electronic media, but outdoor advertising, advertising at tobacco sales venues, as well as open tobacco products displays are still permitted. Direct interference from the tobacco industry has led to a draft law suggesting a ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products to be withdrawn by a deputy only a week after it was submitted.

The Ministry of Finance shocked the public with a direct advertising of Bulgartabac in a joint campaign against cigarettes smuggling which indirectly promoting smoking of legal tobacco products making it seems socially acceptable.

The tobacco industry’s interests influence on the decision making connected with the public health and the policies in the field are unable to effectively reduce the smoking prevalence in Bulgaria.

All of the alarming facts show that it is necessary to work for the implementation of Art. 5.3 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, according to which countries should limit the influence of the tobacco industry on public health policies. Until recently Art. 5.3 was completely unknown among state administration employees, allowing the tobacco industry to maintain its strong positions among politicians, opinion leaders, mainstream media.