Oz takes world's strictest approach to cigarette packaging

"The new branding for cigarettes will be the most hard-line regime in the world and cigarette companies will hate it,"  Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said today.

Graphic health warnings and images will remain on cigarette packages and an additional AD 27.8 million will be ploughed into "hard-hitting" anti-smoking campaigns.

Internet advertising for tobacco products will also be restricted in Australia, to better align with advertising restrictions imposed on other forms of media.

The government also imposed a 25 per cent hike in the tax on cigarettes from midnight today.

The price for a pack of 30 cigarettes will increase AD 2.26, for example.

The increase in tax revenue will, over four years, deliver an extra AD 5 billion to Australia's health and hospital reforms, Rudd said.

The crackdown on smoking comes on the back of recommendations from the National Preventative Health Taskforce, with Rudd adding that reducing the number of smokers will save lives and take pressure off hospitals.

Over 15,000 Australians die each year from illnesses related to smoking, the biggest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the country.

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