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Australia's Gross-Out Cigarette Warnings

Banning brand logos, Australia mandates disease images on packs
Australia's Gross-Out Cigarette Warnings
Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Remember when a pack of smokes came with glitzy logos, rich foil sleeves, and romanticized language about the pleasures within? The future of cigarette packs is now on display in Australia, and it’s not romantic: large, graphic images of gangrenous limbs and cancer victims, with brand names printed in a uniform font on a background legally mandated as “drab dark brown.”

Tobacco products complying with the world’s first plain-packaging laws started arriving in Australia’s stores around Oct. 1, when the country’s A$10 billion ($10.37 billion) tobacco industry was hit with strict constraints on how it can package and sell cigarettes. Similar regulations, backed by the World Health Organization, are being weighed in the U.K., New Zealand, Turkey, and the EU. “With so many countries lined up to ride on Australia’s coattails, what we hope to see is a domino effect for the good of public health,” Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director general, said in a statement.