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Cigarette packs to be standardised as tobacco companies fail to overturn law

Cigarettes are now required by law to be produced in standardised packaging with large picture health warnings.

The move comes after the tobacco industry's High Court challenge to the standardised packaging of tobacco products was defeated yesterday.

The new law means all tobacco products will be boxed in standard packaging without branding, design or logos (pictured).

The packages must also be 65% covered in picture health warnings, including on the top and sides of boxes.

Brand names will still appear on the packs but they will be in standard typeface, colour and size.

As of 20 May, all new cigarettes and other tobacco products manufactured in the UK must comply with these regulations

The judgement by the Hon Mr Justice Green was critical of the tobacco industry's use of expert evidence that was neither peer-reviewed nor published in appropriate scientific or technical journals.

Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer, described the ruling as “a monumental moment for public health”.

She said: “Smoking is the greatest preventable cause of death in the UK, with one in two smokers dying as a direct result of smoking. I strongly believe that standardised packaging will save lives and, importantly, will discourage children and young people from taking up smoking.”

In the UK, more than 100,000 people die every year from a tobacco-related illness as smoking causes 14 types of cancer.

Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: “This is an important milestone in our efforts to reduce the devastating toll that tobacco exerts on so many families every day. It's the beginning of the end for packaging that masks a deadly and addictive product.

“It's taken many years to get to this point and it reflects a huge effort aimed at protecting children from tobacco marketing. Two thirds of regular smokers start before they turn 18, so it is vital that the UK introduced measures like this.

“Australia's experience has shown that standard packaging help reduce youth smoking rates. We look forward to a tobacco free generation which won't be scarred by this lethal addiction.”

The United Kingdom joins France, Australia and the Republic of Ireland as the first countries in the world to pass this type of legislation.

Canada, Hungary, Norway and Slovenia are also in the process of introducing similar policy.

Retailers have one year to sell the existing packets.