Cigarette packets in Australia

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A sample package: a variety of warning packages are in use.

Cigarette packets in Australia have undergone significant changes. Since 1 December 2012 all forms of branding logos, colours, and promotional texts are banned from cigarette pack designs. In turn they were replaced with drab dark brown packets (Pantone 448 C)[1] and graphic images of smoking-related images to try to reduce the smoking population of Australia to 10% by 2018 from 15% in 2012.

As of December 2018, countries that have plain packaging laws are Australia, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, Hungary, Turkey and Thailand .[2][3][4]


In 1973, Australia's first health warning on cigarette packages appeared with the simple message 'WARNING — SMOKING IS A HEALTH HAZARD'.[5] Since 1 March 2006, graphic images depicting the effects of smoking cigarettes have been required to be displayed on cigarette packets. Warnings must cover 30% of the front and 90% of the back of the box.[6] The 10% of the back not occupied by a warning is used for the message "Sale to underage persons prohibited".

Since 1 December 2012 all forms of branding logos, colours, and promotional texts are banned from cigarette pack designs. The requirement is for plain cigarette packaging showing only brand name and health warning messages. Australia was the first country to have plain packaging cigarette packs.[7][8] At the same time the plain packets were introduced, the size of the anti-smoking images became larger, so the two effects are difficult to separate.[9]

Canada was the first country to use graphic pictures in conjunction with written warnings on cigarette packages, with the legislation coming in 2000.[10]

Development around the world[edit]

Following Australia's lead a number of other countries also require standardized packaging including France (applies to cigarettes sold after 1 January 2017), United Kingdom (21 May 2017), New Zealand (6 June 2018), Norway (1 July 2018), Ireland (30 September 2018) and Hungary (20 May 2019).

As a result of the enactment of the December 2015 plain tobacco packaging bill, on 1 January 2017 France became the second country in the world, after Australia, and the first in the European Union to require tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging.[11]

In March 2015, the House of Commons voted 367–113 in favour of plain cigarette packaging in the United Kingdom. The sale of plain packs is compulsory since 21 May 2017.


For cigarette packets, warnings include:

With each warning is an accompanying graphic, and detailed information on the back of the packet. In addition, cigar and loose tobacco packets show other, slightly altered warnings. These warnings target the misconception that alternative, non-cigarette tobacco products are less harmful.

There have been calls to expand the range of warnings to reflect current research into the effects of smoking, such as impacts on fertility.[12]

Australian cigarette packaging laws also prohibit the use of terms such as 'light', 'mild', 'extra mild', etc. The three major Australian tobacco manufacturers agreed to stop using these terms, after investigation of complaints of misleading and deceptive terms were made to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in 2005.[13] This has assisted in counteracting the belief that some cigarette varieties are less harmful than others. To the same effect, while the carbon monoxide, nicotine and tar content of particular brands of cigarettes used to be mandated, the display and/or advertisement these figures is now prohibited under the government's "All Cigarettes are Toxic" campaign.

Although there has been no concrete proof as of 2014 that plain packaging has affected cigarette purchases in Australia,[14] there has been a significant increase of calls to quitline in some states[15] that would suggest plain packaging might encourage smokers to attempt or at least seek help with quitting smoking.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rachel Wells (17 August 2012). Does this colour turn you off?. The Age. Retrieved on 7 December 2012.
  2. ^ "Are electronic cigarettes legal in Australia?". Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  3. ^ Perraudin, Frances (11 March 2015). "MPs pass legislation to introduce standardised cigarette packaging". the Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  4. ^ "La France adopte le paquet de cigarettes neutre". Le Soir (in French). 18 December 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  5. ^ Scollo, Michelle & Haslam, Indra (2008). "Attachment 12.1 Health warnings". Tobacco in Australia. Cancer Council Victoria. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  6. ^ "Australia – Warnings". 1 March 2006. Archived from the original on 22 November 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  7. ^ "Australia plans plain-packaging rule for cigarettes". BBC News. 29 April 2010. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  8. ^ Richard Shears (28 April 2010). Australia PM bans cigarette logos as he orders world's first 'plain packaging' anti-smoking scheme. Includes example image. Mail Online. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved on 7 December 2012.
  9. ^ Gage, Suzi (27 April 2017). "Standardised cigarette packaging is on its way, will it reduce smoking?". the Guardian. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  10. ^ Haines-Saah, R. J., Bell, K., & Dennis, S. (2015). A Qualitative Content Analysis of Cigarette Health Warning Labels in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 105(2), e61-9. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302362
  11. ^ France and the UK join Australia as plain packing leaders
  12. ^ Taylor, Tegan (9 July 2018). "Everyone knows smoking causes lung cancer, but what about infertility and arthritis?". ABC News. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  13. ^ Liberman, Jonathan (2008). "16.2.1 ACCC action on 'light' and 'mild' cigarettes". Tobacco in Australia. Cancer Council of Victoria. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  14. ^ Davidson, S., & de Silva, A. (2014). The plain truth about plain packaging: An econometric analysis of the Australian 2011 tobacco plain packaging act. Agenda: A Journal of Policy Analysis and Reform, 21(1), 27-43. Young, J. M., Stacey, I., Dobbins, T. A., Dunlop, S., Dessaix, A. L., & Currow, D. C. (2014). Association between tobacco plain packaging and quitline calls: A population-based, interrupted time-series analysis. The Medical Journal of Australia, 200(1), 29-32. doi:10.5694/mja13.11070
  15. ^ Young, J., Stacey, I., Dobbins, T., Dunlop, S., Dessaix, A., & Currow, D. (2014). Association between tobacco plain packaging and Quitline calls: a population-based, interrupted time-series analysis. The Medical Journal of Australia, 200(1), 29-32. doi:10.5694/mja13.11070