New cigarette packaging, featuring graphic tobacco warning images, is set to become mandatory in Australia, amid an ongoing row over tough new legislation.
Amid allegations of dirty tricks by Australian tobacco companies, and despite a spate of legal battles, all cigarettes in Australia must now be sold in the new packets, which feature macabre images of sick babies, dying cancer sufferers and diseased feet, eyeballs and lungs.
The new anti-smoking laws, which are the most Draconian in the world, strips packs of all branding, bright colours and logos, leaving only the name printed in identical small font.
The packets are blank except for gruesome health warnings, which have been branded by smokers as 'disgusting'.
The plain packaging laws are, perhaps, a potential watershed for the global industry, which serves 1 billion regular smokers, according to World Health Organisation statistics.
Australia, which has one of the world's lowest smoking rates, has been phasing in the new packaging over the last two months.
Because the number of smokers in Australia is so low, it's thought the changes will have little impact on multinationals' profits.
The government says the aim is to deter young people from smoking by stripping the habit of glamour.
It is relying on studies showing that if people have not started smoking by age 26, there is a 99 percent chance they will never take it up.
Federal Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, told Reuters: "Even from a very early age, you can see that kids understand the message that the tobacco company is trying to sell through their branding."
According to reports smokers' advice groups have already been receiving calls from angry smokers who say that the new packaging makes their cigarettes taste worse.
James Yu, who runs the King of the Pack tobacconist in central Sydney, is indignant about Australia's stringent anti-tobacco laws, especially as the changes make it difficult to identify which brand is which: "It used to take me an hour to unload a delivery, now it takes me four hours," Yu said, demonstrating how difficult it is to find the brand names.
"The government should have just banned them altogether and then we'd go OK, fine, we're done, we'll shut up shop."
In 2010 the French public were in uproar over a sexually suggestive anti-smoking posters showing male and female teenagers kneeling in front of a man, as if being forced to have oral sex. A cigarette takes the place of the man's sexual organ and the caption reads: "Smoking is to be a slave to tobacco."Reuse content