The world's toughest laws on tobacco promotion moved a step closer with Australia saying all cigarette packets will soon have to be dark olive-green and plastered with health warnings.
Under proposed legislation aimed at reducing smoking rates, due to take effect next year, all logos will be removed from cigarette packaging, and tobacco companies must print their brand name in a specific font.
Olive-green was picked after research showed it was the least attractive colour for smokers in a bid to prevent tobacco companies trying to market their products by making them look luxurious or cool, the health minister said.
As well as the unattractive colour, Australia plans to have graphic health warnings cover 75% of the front of a pack and all of the back.
Low appeal to smokers
"The new packs have been designed to have the lowest appeal to smokers and to make clear the terrible effects that smoking can have on your health," said Health Minister Nicola Roxon.
"The legislation will restrict tobacco industry logos, brand imagery, colours and promotional text appearing on packs.
"The only thing to distinguish one brand from another will be the brand and product name in a standard colour, standard position and standard font size and style."
Nixon said 15,000 Australians die of smoking-related diseases every year.
The move has infuriated tobacco companies with Imperial Tobacco Australia already saying it planned to challenge plain packaging on the grounds that it would affect its profits.
British American Tobacco Australia, meanwhile, said the proposed legislation would infringe international trademark and intellectual property laws.
Nixon said the government was ready for the fight.
"The government knows that big tobacco companies are going to fight this," she said.
"But when you still have 15,000 Australians dying every year because of tobacco-related illnesses caused from smoking, this is a fight it's worth us having."
Tobacco advertising is already outlawed in Australia, while smoking is banned in most enclosed public spaces such as offices and restaurants.
(Sapa, April 2011)