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COSTA RICA INTENDS TO DEMAND COMPENSATION FROM TOBACCO FIRMS

Tiny Costa Rica plans to demand millions in compensation from big tobacco companies for the cost of treating smoking-related diseases, an official said Sunday.

One of the demands will cover the cost to Costa Rica's state social security system over the past decade, said medical director Julieta Rodriguez.

She said claims would be made against Republic Tobacco Co., a unit of British-American Tobacco Ltd., and Costa Rica's Tabacalera, a unit of Philip Morris Cos.

The plan was announced a month after cigarette makers agreed to pay $368.5 billion to settle lawsuits by 40 U.S. states over the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses and other issues.

A Costa Rican study earlier this year said treating people with smoking-related diseases, including cancer and circulatory and respiratory illnesses, had cost the social security system about $534 million.

Costa Rica's Institute of Alcoholism and Chemical Dependency said 11.4 percent of deaths in Costa Rica, or about four a day, were tobacco-related.

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