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Health

Australia introduces tough tobacco law

Legislation has come into effect in Australia meaning all cigarettes must be sold in identical packaging. The law, the first of its kind in the world, survived a constitutional challenge by tobacco companies.

Australian smokers now have to buy their tobacco products in standard olive-brown packets that feature graphic images of diseased body parts.

The laws, which came into effect on Saturday, are aimed at reducing any perceived glamour associated with smoking.

"The challenge for us as a government is to make it as unappealing as possible," Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said on Friday, ahead of the law's coming into force. "If we can prevent young people from taking it up, that's a lifetime gift to them."

The legislation is considered to be the strictest in the world, with all bright colors and logos removed. Cigarette brand names on the new packaging are all written in the same typeface and each pack bears large pictures depicting health conditions that have been linked to smoking.

They include shots of mouth cancer or a gangrenous foot, as well as the image of a skeletal man who is dying.

British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco lost a legal appeal in August.

The move is being watched closely in Britain, Norway, New Zealand, Canada and India, where governments are considering the introduction of similar measures.

Australia has seen its proportion of smokers fall from about 50 percent in the 1950s to 15 percent at present.

rc/ccp (AFP, Reuters)