Smoking in Costa Rica is not only unhealthy for the lungs, it may soon make a bigger dent in the wallet too.
A handful of legislators, backed by the Health Ministry, are supporting a bill that would raise the tax on each cigarette sold by ¢100 ($0.18) or ¢2,000 ($3.52) for a pack of 20.
The initiative stems, in part, from an agreement with the World Health Organization in which Costa Rica agreed to address its smoking problem.
The law also would limit smoking in work places, in recreation or cultural areas and near health centers, according to an advisory from the Legislative Assembly.
An estimated 400,000 men and 140,000 women in Costa Rica – about 12 percent of the population – are smokers, according to statistics on the Social Security System’s Web site (www.ccss.sa.cr).
Under the proposed law, the tax of ¢100 will vary according to inflation, and manufacturers would be required to cover at least 70 percent of the front face of the cigarette pack with a health warning.