At tobacconists in Sydney, Australia, the rows of cigarette packets look more disturbing than ever.
The much larger health warnings and pictures showing the deadly effects of smoking are part of a new packaging law that comes into effect on Saturday.
All tobacco products must now be sold in drab, olive-brown packets with the brand’s logo removed. The name will be printed in an identical, small font.
The government hopes the new packs will deter young people from taking up the habit as the glamour associated with smoking is removed.
But not everyone is convinced. Smoker Victor El Hage said: “The packages? To me they are just pictures you can find in any place. They mean nothing to me. Honestly, I’m actually trying to stop smoking but the truth is, the only reason I’m try to stop is (for) my little girl.”
Tobacco manufacturers have lobbied hard against the new law. They’re worried that other countries will follow Australia’s example.
So far there’s only experimental research to suggest that the new packaging will work.
But Australia’s Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek is determined to change perceptions among Australia’s
estimated 3.4 million smokers.
“It is a legal product but it is the only legal product that if taken as recommended by its maker is likely to kill half of its regular users. If we knew that when tobacco was made legal or was fire introduced into common usage, I don’t think it would be a legal product today,” she said.