Cigarettes packed in plain packaging have hit the shelves in Australia, making the Oceanic country the first in the world to have banned all tobacco company logos and colors from cigarette packets.
In August, the Associated Press reported that Australia's High Court had upheld the "world's toughest law on cigarette promotion" -- one that prohibits tobacco firms from branding cigarette packaging with distinctive colors, designs and logos.
According to the AFP, the new "plain packets" law came into effect in Australia on Saturday.
The news agency writes:
The new law, the first of its kind anywhere the world, came into force despite a vigorous legal challenge by big tobacco, which argued that the legislation infringed its intellectual property rights by banning trademarks.
All cigarettes will now have to be sold in identical, olive-brown packets bearing the same typeface and largely covered with graphic health warnings.
A cashier at a Sydney newsagent told AFP that many customers have said that they "find the new packaging, which must feature graphic images such as a gangrenous foot, mouth cancer or a skeletal man dying of cancer, off-putting."
"This is the last gasp of a dying industry," declared Australia's Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, according to the BBC.
The Australian government, which has been encouraging other countries to adopt similar laws, hopes the new packaging will make smoking "as unglamorous as possible," the AP reports.
"Plain packaging has taken the personality away from the pack," Anne Jones of the anti-smoking group Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) told the BBC. "Once you take away all the color coding and imagery and everything is standardized with massive health warnings, you really do de-glamorize the product."
According to a study published in the journal BMC Public Health earlier this year, plain cigarette packages do make tobacco "less appealing." After surveying 640 Brazilian women, researchers from the University of Waterloo found that colorful branded packs were "more likely to receive higher ratings -- for flavor and appeal, for example -- than those with the plain packs."
"Plain packaging and removal of descriptors may reduce the appeal of smoking for youth and young adults, and consequently reduce smoking susceptibility," the researchers wrote in the study. "Overall, the findings provide support for plain packaging regulations, such as those proposed in Australia."
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