The damage to Bulgaria’s economy from people smoking is equivalent to 10 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, the “For Life Without Tobacco Smoke” coalition said on October 12.
The coalition said that the economic cost of smoking was borne not only by smokers, because the treatment of smoking-related illnesses was paid for by all taxpayers, while employers suffered from the loss of productivity among employees who smoke.
The economic damage to Bulgaria because of smoking added up to about 165 million leva, the coalition said.
According to a report compiled by the coalition, more than 28 per cent of adolescents in Bulgaria were regular smokers.
In contrast to most other countries, where smoking was more prevalent among people with lower incomes, in Bulgaria the highest proportion of smokers was among people with the highest incomes.
The coalition said that its research had established that tobacco products were sold and advertised near abou 96 per cent of schools in Sofia.
Twenty per cent of Bulgarian children smoke their first cigarette at the age of 10, the coalition said.
In September 2016, a European survey found that Bulgaria had the highest proportion in Europe of 16-year-olds who smoke.
According to the data, eighty-eight of Bulgarian 16-year-olds say that they have easy access to alcohol and 76 per cent have no trouble getting cigarettes. Thirty-three per cent of this age group smoke daily.
Bulgaria is among the few countries where teenage girls smoke more than teenage boys.
The coalition says that advertising influences children and is calling for a total ban on cigarette advertising.