Graphic images of diseased lungs and tumours are to be printed on all tobacco packets from October 2008, the new Health Secretary Alan Johnson announced today.
The UK will be the first country in the EU to use such visual warnings on tobacco products, aimed at raising awareness and helping smokers to quit or cut down.
Alan Johnson said: "Picture warnings are the next vital step in reducing the number of people who smoke. We are committed to continuing to drive down smoking rates in the UK as smoking remains the number one cause of ill health and early death.
"We have already made a lot of progress with stark written warnings on cigarette packs.
"Today's announcement together with the introduction of the smokefree law last moths and our plans to raise the legal age of sale for tobacco products will potentially save lives and others will be spared the misery of watching family and friends die prematurely from smoke related illnesses."
Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson says he is delighted to hear that picture warnings will be placed on cigarette packs.
"This will help promote better awareness of the damage that smoking does to lives and families, an essential step toward reduceing the number of people who start smoking."
Elspeth Lee, senior tobacco control manager at Cancer Research UK agreed saying, "International evidence shows that graphic picture warnings lead to greater awareness of the risks associated with smoking and help encourage people to cut down or quit altogether."