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Costa Rica to declare “war” on tobacco smuggling

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012 – QNews Costa Rica | Source: Inside Costa Rica

The Health Ministry is looking to fight the cigarette smuggling business in Costa Rica, both through existing legislation as well as a new law.

Sisy Castillo, Vice-Minister of Health, said that Costa Rica’s anti-tobacco law and regulation provides legislation to fight the clandestine cigarette market.

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Castillo said her ministry is considering an agreement with the Fiscal Police of the Hacienda (Treasury department), and acquiring a computerized system that will verify whether the products sold in supermarkets, mini-markets and other outlets are registered and have the corresponding permits to be sold in Costa Rica.

Besides being less expensive, illegal cigarettes contain more harmful substances, according to officials.

“(The system being considered) is very similar to the one that is used in countries such as Brazil and Turkey, which has produced good results. What it does is use a device very similar to a scanner, which is placed over the identification seal on the cigarette box. The cigarettes that enter the country in a legal manner will be recognized, whereas the illegal ones will be rejected, and will therefore be confiscated and destroyed,” said the Vice-Minister.

Castillo hopes to have the legislation prepared soon, to be submitted and revised before the Legislative Assembly. She expects to have the law for the “Fight Against Smuggling” passed by 2013.

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