Shock pictures of the effects of smoking may be on their way to Britain. By Sophie Goodchild

Images of rotten teeth and smoke-blackened lungs are set to be displayed on cigarette packets as part of a new hard-hitting anti-smoking campaign drawn up by ministers.

Images of rotten teeth and smoke-blackened lungs are set to be displayed on cigarette packets as part of a new hard-hitting anti-smoking campaign drawn up by ministers.

The move is the most extreme yet by the Government to shock people into quitting tobacco. It will feature 14 slogans and pictures each with an individual health warning about impotence, infertility or premature ageing.

John Reid, the Secretary of State for Health, will launch a 12-week consultation on the warnings with tobacco companies, medical experts and anti-smoking campaigners to find the most powerful pictures.

On the shortlist is one of a man with a bulging tumour on his throat with this caption: "Smoking can cause a slow and painful death".

Another shows a corpse in a mortuary with the words: "Smokers die younger". Also up for inclusion is the image of a drooping cigarette to link the habit to impotence; a cigarette depicted as a syringe to illustrate the habit's addictive nature, and a woman pushing an empty baby carriage to show how smoking can damage fertility.

The NHS spends £1.5bn annually treating smoking-related diseases and ministers want to cut these costs.

The Independent on Sunday revealed last year that ministers were toughening anti-smoking TV adverts with emotive new advertising campaigns. The plan to put shocking images on every cigarette packet is being driven by the European Union, which says it wants to shake smokers out of their complacency. Ireland and Belgium have already decided to introduce the new measures which will be voluntary in the 25 member states.

The idea originated in Canada where cigarette packets have carried pictures of the health risks of smoking for nearly five years. .

The Government has pledged to cut smoking levels from 28 to 21 per cent of the population by 2010. It also wants to outlaw smoking in most public places by 2008, including all bars and pubs serving food.

About 30 per cent of the British public smoke while 42 per cent of under-65s are exposed to second-hand smoke at home. Pub and bar staff are especially at risk. Research shows they are exposed to three times the levels of smoke that a non-smoker living with a smoker experiences.

ASH, the anti-smoking charity, welcomed the new tactics but said they would only work as part of a ban on smoking in work and public places.

Additional reporting by Tom Anderson

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