Tobacco advertising in Bulgaria 2013 (EN)

Printed media 

The TTP Act generally bans tobacco advertising in the press and other printed publications in Bulgaria. Only two exceptions are allowed:

i. publications intended exclusively for professionals in the field of the tobacco and tobacco products trade or for persons whose primary business activity is the manufacture or sale of tobacco and tobacco products; and

ii. publications which are printed or published in third countries, where those publications are not intended for an EU or EEA member state’s market.

Any other form of commercial communication promoting a tobacco product in the press and other printed publications in Bulgaria is prohibited.

With respect to these restrictions, the ECJ has clarified that the term ‘printed publications’ used in the Directive and the Bulgarian TTP Act covers only publications such as newspapers, periodicals and magazines3. The ECJ has underlined that the rationale of this ban is to ensure the free circulation throughout the internal market of the EU for all such media, and therefore it is necessary to limit tobacco advertising basically only to those magazines and periodicals which are not intended for the general public.

Thus, it can be concluded that the scope of application of this ban should not include publications with a rather local character such as bulletins produced by local associations, programmes for cultural events, posters, telephone directories and various leaflets and prospectuses.

The Internet 

In accordance with the Directive, the Bulgarian legislature extends the advertising ban in printed media to also cover information society services4. Basically, these are all services of an interactive nature provided online and as such should be considered Internet websites, videoconference, electronic mail, discussion forums, etc.

The general rule is that advertising that is not permitted in the press and other printed publications, is also not permitted on the Internet. In other words, tobacco advertising on the Internet is banned with the same exceptions as to the printed media.

In fact, the ECJ agrees that the restrictive measures on tobacco advertising on the Internet can be justified by the concern to prevent circumvention of the prohibition applicable to printed media, made possible through media convergence and the easy access to information society services (for example, using online newspapers).

Radio and television

The TTP Act reaffirms the complete ban on radio and TV tobacco advertising regulated in Bulgaria by the Television and Radio Act.

All forms of commercial communication in radio and TV programmes are prohibited, including surreptitious advertising and product placement5.