Gruesome photos showing how deadly a habit smoking can be will be slapped on every cigarette packet sold in the UK from 30 September.
And the move is being welcomed by the Mouth Cancer Foundation who are ‘delighted that the UK is introducing picture warnings on tobacco packs’.
After a public consultation last year, 15 images – including ones of diseased lungs and another of a man with an advanced cancerous tumour on his throat – were chosen to accompany text warnings about lung cancer and heart disease.
Dr Vinod Joshi, founder of the Mouth Cancer Foundation, said: ‘Evidence shows that graphic picture warnings lead to greater awareness of the risks associated with smoking.
‘This will help encourage young people to cut down or quit altogether before they get addicted. 75% of mouth cancers occur in patients who use tobacco.
He added: ‘The gruesome picture showing a mouth cancer will help smokers quit and deter the young smoker.’
The government believe there was enough evidence from other countries that the new images would help people quit.
Ministers promised it would introduce picture warnings on cigarette packets in its public health white paper in 2004.
In recent years, the European Commission has been urging member countries to do so as well.
Under the rules, it is expected that cigarette packs with written warnings only will not be allowed on sale past 30 September.
For other tobacco packets, the deadline will be September 30 2009.
Ministers have said the current system of written warnings has become less effective and other countries such as Canada and Brazil who have already introduced picture warnings say that research shows it has been effective in raising awareness about the risks associated with smoking.
Earlier this month, a Department of Health advertising campaign – using pictures of a smoker with a fish hook in his mouth and designed to confront smokers with the controlling nature of their addiction – was pulled by advertising watchdog, the ASA.
The watchdog received 774 complaints about the ads that encouraged smokers to ‘get unhooked’.
The images featured in the TV, national press, poster and internet ads were deemed offensive, frightening and distressing.
The poster ads, in particular, generated the most complaints with objections that they could frighten and distress children.
After receiving 774 complaints, the ASA agreed that two of the TV ads and the poster ads could ‘frighten and distress’ children, and they were withdrawn.