Australian anti-smoking laws to be 'toughest in world'

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April 7, 2011 handout from Australia government shows the new compulsory cigarette packet style in dark olive-green
Image caption,
Australia's design plans for cigarette packets are intentionally off-putting

Australia has unveiled what it claims are the toughest anti-smoking measures anywhere in the world.

They would completely ban logos and branding on packets of cigarettes - making Australia the first to do so.

The packets would also be plain olive green, which is the colour that smokers apparently find least attractive.

The tobacco companies say they are selling a legal product, and that the proposals infringe international trademark laws.

The colour, olive green, is the latest weapon in the ongoing battle between the Australian government and big tobacco.

Under aggressive new proposals, billed as the toughest in the world, every packet of cigarettes sold in Australia would be packaged in that colour after research showed that olive green was the most off-putting for smokers.

Logos and any form of distinct branding would be completely banned.

Instead, the brand names would appear in a standard size and font, making them as bland and anonymous as possible.

A greater area of the packaging would also be taken up with grotesque pictures of cancerous tumours and the health effects of tobacco.

Claiming a global first, the Australian government says it wants to remove any remaining glamour from cigarettes, but the big tobacco companies have questioned the legality of the legislation.

Worried about the possible worldwide knock-on effect of Australia introducing such stringent regulations, they've vowed to put up a fight - saying the new measures infringe international trademark and intellectual property laws.