The Australian government overcame legal challenges from the tobacco industry to implement the change.
Under new laws which come into effect on 1 December, all tobacco products must be sold in drab, olive-brown packets with expanded graphic health warnings which feature images such as gangrenous feet and mouth cancer.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said the packets, which survived a constitutional challenge from major tobacco firms, were about making smoking less attractive.
“That’s the aim of this exercise,” she told reporters in Sydney.
“The challenge for us as a government is to make it (smoking) as unappealing as possible. If we can prevent young people from taking it up, that’s a lifetime gift to them.”
Tobacco companies had fought the change, but the High Court rejected their argument that the new law infringed their intellectual property rights by banning brands and trademarks from packets.
The UK Government is currently considering whether to follow the Australian example. If so the UK will become the first country in Europe to implement plain, standardised packaging of tobacco products.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, commented: “Australia deserves the thanks of everyone concerned about the public health disaster that is smoking, for introducing plain standardised packaging and leading the way for the rest of the world.
“The tobacco industry is terrified of the removal of the last vestiges of advertising from their products and is spending millions of pounds in the UK to fight the measure.
“We trust our Government will calmly review the evidence and not be swayed by the distorted misinformation put out by the tobacco industry and its allies.”
‘Open the floodgates to counterfeiters’
Earlier this year, packaging heavyweights threw their weight behind a new group to combat the Government’s proposals for plain packaging on tobacco products.
The new formed group, which includes packaging firms such as Weidenhammer Packaging Group, Payne, Parkside Flexibles Group, Chesapeake, believes the plan will set a precedent for future regulation of other consumer goods sectors, like food and drink.
Speaking earlier this year, Weidenhammer chief executive Ralf Weidenhammer said: “At a time when all of Europe is facing huge economic challenges, it is crazy to even consider something which could destroy further jobs and business activity and open the floodgates to counterfeiters.”