January 7, 2010 - Tennessee Seeks $300K from Cigarette Maker

A Colombian cigarette company owes the state of Tennessee $300,000, state officials claim.

Deputy Tennessee Attorney General John Sinclair says Procesadora Nacional Cigarillera S.A., also known as Pronalci S.A., owes the money to help pay for the healthcare costs the state must cover to treat smokers, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported Wednesday.

The newspaper said the payments are mandated by a 1998 legal settlement with the four largest U.S. tobacco companies to end state lawsuits over smoking-related illnesses and deaths, from which Tennessee has received more than $1.5 billion.

Sinclair told the Tennessean smaller companies like Pronalci which weren't part of the original settlement are still required to make payments into separate escrow accounts in return for obtaining licenses to sell cigarettes.

The state is asking a judge to force Pronalci -- maker of Poker brand cigarettes -- to pay the full amount into the escrow account as well as penalties.

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