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What are the new laws on cigarette and tobacco packaging and why are companies like Marlboro being stripped of their branding?

Familiar brands are soon to be a thing of the past with new laws set to come into force this year

CIGARETTES and tobacco products have already been hidden away behind the counter in an effort to stop people taking up smoking and help them quit the dangerous habit.

And this year new laws come into force meaning packets will lose their colourful packaging – including iconic brands such as Marlboro.

Here’s what the new laws mean and why they are being brought in.

Why plain cigarette packaging?

The aim of the laws are simple – to cut the number of people taking up smoking by making it less appealing to children and young people.

According to Cancer Research, two-thirds of smokers start before the age of 18 – the beginning of an addiction which will kill up to 2 in 3 long-term smokers.

Two-thirds of smokers start before they are 18, according to Cancer Research

Several studies have shown standard packs change attitudes and beliefs around smoking by reducing its appeal and making health warnings more prominent.

It is also believed to stem myths that some lighter-coloured packs are less harmful as they contain lower tar.

Standard packs also appear to be supported by most people, with a survey by YouGov in January 2015 revealing 72% support for standard packs compared to just 15% against.

When will the law come into force?

Technically, the law came into force on May 20 2016, but companies were given a 12-month grace period to sell their old packs and bring in standardised packaging.

From May this year, anyone caught selling non-plain packs will face severe penalties.

Has it been introduced anywhere else?

Australia has had standardised packs since December 2012, and figures suggest smoking has declined since then.

The number of daily smokers is reported to have fallen by 3% since 2010 to just 13% of the population.

France has also banned branded packs, with laws coming into force on January 1.

What will new plain cigarette packs look like?

All packs will be a single colour “opaque couche” – a muddy green – described as the world’s ugliest colour.

Brand names will be written in standard font, size and location on the pack, with health warnings covering at least 65% of the box, on the front, back and top.

And there will be no side-sliding packs.

Are there any other changes?

Menthol cigarettes are being banned from 2020, as well as 10-packs because the boxes are too small to carry a big enough health warning.

Rolling tobacco will only be allowed in packs of 30g or more.

How have tobacco companies reacted?

Four of the world’s biggest tobacco firms launched a last-ditch legal bid against the move, but it failed.

They claimed the new regulations violated several UK and EU laws and would destroy their property rights by making products indistinguishable from each other.

They also claimed there was a lack of evidence that plain packaging would deter smokers.

Smokers’ rights group Forest also said the new rules “treat adults like children and teenagers like idiots”.

Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International appealed the laws in the High Court last year.

But Mr Justice Green dismissed all their grounds, saying: “The regulations were lawful when they were promulgated by Parliament and they are lawful now in the light of the most up-to-date evidence.”

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