A high court in London ruled that all cigarettes sold in the United Kingdom (UK) will come in plain, standardized packages. This new regulation will help discourage the purchase of tobacco products and in turn, reduce smoking rates in the country.
All of the previous features that made cigarette packages attractive will be removed. Moving forward, hand-rolled tobacco and cigarettes will be sold in plain brown packages with the same size, shape and color. The brand names will also share the same font, color and size.
Moreover, about 65 percent of the plain packaging will be covered by health warnings in both text and photos showing the health consequences of the nasty habit.
Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco International appealed to the UK Government's plain packaging policy. They argued that the law is an illegal expropriation of their brands. Their efforts went up in smoke.
"Standardised packaging will reduce smoking rates and save lives, which will always be a top priority for this government. We will never allow the tobacco industry to dictate our policies," said public health minister Jane Ellison MP.
Anti-smoking advocates said that other countries considering the same route will be encouraged by the recent ruling in the UK. These other countries include Canada, Slovenia, Norway and Hungary.
"It's taken many years to get to this point and it reflects a huge effort aimed at protecting children from tobacco marketing," said Cancer Research UK chief executive Sir Harpal Kumar.
According to the anti-smoking charity group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) the recent "landmark judgment" is deemed a big loss for the tobacco industry.
Furthermore, the ruling justifies the UK government's dedication in the pursuance of standardized cigarette packaging, said ASH's chief executive Deborah Arnott.
The new regulations will take effect on May 20. All of the cigarette products in the UK manufactured after this date must comply with the new package ruling.
Tobacco companies are allowed time to sell their remaining inventories with the existing packages. In a few months, all cigarette packs regardless of brand are expected to look the same because of the standard packaging.
According to the UK's National Health Services, smoking is the number one cause of death in the country. Smoking is responsible for approximately 100,000 deaths every year.
It is also responsible for more than 50 severe health conditions, some of which can be fatal while some result in long-term, devastating and irreversible damage.