Bulgarian contraband: think big, smoke more


More than enough for a lifetime…

An astonishing announcement by Vanyo Tanov, the head of Bulgaria’s National Customs Agency (NCA).

He has stated, according to an online report, that “around 25,000,000 smuggled cigarettes have been discovered…  the excise duty of the smuggled cigarettes amounts to BGN 3.5 million and the cigarettes amount to not less than BGN 2-3 million.”[1]

No mention of when, or where, or (understandably, how) this little stash was uncovered. Plus, I hope the source of this story has inserted the correct number of zeros (a common problem, not confined to this agency).[1]

The only reason I bother to mention this report is because of the huge scale of the alleged operation. Almost every day, some idiots get done over for illicit smuggling, sometimes on an appreciable and daring scale – but this is a “good one”.

Now comes the maths

As a smoker, I’ve done some calculations, based on the figures quoted above.

25 mn ciggies means 125,000 cartons of 10 packets, i.e., 1,250,000 single packets. If I smoked 40 cigarettes per day, it would take me (forgetting leap years, neither here nor there), a total of 1,712 years to consume them all. (I don’t suppose I’d live that long, anyway.)

The figures quoted correlate quite well. If I were to estimate a BGN 3 mn total price for my own fags, at BGN 4.60 per pack (taxes included), at  40 per day, I’d need 1,785 years of consumption.

So, I assume the contraband was of superior, whether Bulgarian or foreign, cigarettes.

Note also that the duties and excises exceed the quoted cost of the merchandise (doh!). Maybe I should re-calculate the figures, taking the aggregate cost of 3.5+(2.5/3.0) mn. Never mind, life’s too short… pass the matches, please.

The contraband was discovered, the report mentions, in a disused warehouse belonging to drugs company Sopharma; stored in broccoli boxes and (appropriately, given the alleged scale of the operation) – coffins.

It’s possible that this is not the kind of private enterprise we need to encourage in Bulgaria. So, congratulations, Mr. Tanov and colleagues!

[1]: Focus Information Agency

Image: TypicallySpanish


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