SYDNEY — Australia plans to force tobacco companies to strip all logos and color from their packaging, leaving cigarette packs decorated with only a few words and graphic warning images of shriveled, diseased lungs or gangrenous toes.
“The new branding for cigarettes will be the most hard-line regime in the world, and cigarette companies will hate it,’’ Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said.
Health groups and antismoking campaigners welcomed the plan, designed to drive more people away from smoking. Tobacco manufacturers condemned it, with one threatening to sue.
Under the plan, companies would not be allowed to print promotional text, and brand names would be relegated to tiny print at the bottom.
Parliament will be asked to put the plan into effect on July 1, 2012, Rudd said.
He also announced an immediate 25 percent tax increase on tobacco products.
Rudd said the tough stance is justified by the high cost of treating smoking-related illnesses.
Tobacco advertising on billboards and in magazines has been banned in Australia for years.