Nova Scotia and Manitoba are looking for a law firm to take on a lawsuit they hope to launch against the tobacco industry to recover health care costs.

The government of Nova Scotia issued a statement saying the two provinces are seeking a firm that they expect will take on their case on a contingency basis.

That means the law firm would only get paid if the provinces win their case.

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Ross Landry said the lawsuit would aim to recover health-care costs from the 1950s to the 1980s. He said during that time, cigarette manufacturers knowingly sold a product they knew would be harmful to people's health.

Landry said the province's legal action will include about 30 years of data.

"This matter is about the actual medical evidence and other evidence that shows that the substance was addictive and that there are some issues with the tobacco companies and the disclosure of that information," said Landry.

"As a result of that action, a number of people got addicted and … we can show the correlation between tobacco and our health-care costs."

Some provinces have already launched similar lawsuits, while others have voiced intentions to do so.

Statistics from the Canadian Cancer Society and the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness estimate smoking-related illnesses currently cost taxpayers about $200 million each year to treat.