All packets of cigarettes and other tobacco products sold in Britain will have to feature graphic photographs showing the effects of smoking from next year, government ministers said Wednesday.
The move was unveiled by Health Secretary Alan Johnson, who said it would shock more people into quitting, while a spokeswoman for the Department of Health confirmed it came about following a European directive in 2001.
Belgium was the first European Union member state to publish warning photos on cigarette packets, but Britain is going a step further by applying the rule to all tobacco products.
The decision brings Britain into line with nations such as Canada, India, Australia and Singapore.
The photos which will be used are being selected by members of the public, who voted for the 15 most disturbing from 42 which featured on a website.
Ministers will announce later Wednesday which ones were the winners, but the options include pictures of cancerous lungs and diseased gums.
Johnson said that the pictures were necessary because written warnings which currently appear on tobacco products were losing their punch.
"We've had the messages on cigarette packets since 2003, warning that smoking kills, for instance, but the evidence is that's very effective, but it's diminishing in its effect," he told ITV television.
"Using graphic images to get the same message across -- that smoking kills, that people who smoke will die younger".
A 2002 study from the Canadian Cancer Society showed that 58 percent of smokers said that the pictures made them think more about the effects of smoking.
From October, the minimum age for buying tobacco in Britain will rise from 16 to 18, bringing it in line with alcohol. Smoking in enclosed public places is now banned across the country.