New Zealand has started the implementation of standardised packaging for tobacco products sold in the country.

The move comes in line with the government’s aim to cut down the number of smokers and, eventually, create a smoke-free nation by 2025.

The new packaging will replace ‘attractive’ brand design with standardised brand names and large pictorial warnings on a plain background.

From now on, smokers will find the brand names in a standard colour, position and font size.

“On-pack warnings are very important because they allow us to reach all smokers, but we must recognise that people who have smoked for 30 years differ from young people.”

According to the Otago Daily Times, retailers in the country will have 12 weeks to complete the sale of old stock.

University of Otago professor and ASPIRE2025 co-director Janet Hoek called for the launch of a campaign that ensures standardised packs have a solid impact on smokers.

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Hoek said: “On-pack warnings are very important because they allow us to reach all smokers, but we must recognise that people who have smoked for 30 years differ from young people who are experimenting or who regard themselves as social smokers.”

Previous research work conducted by Professor Hoek and her team revealed that young people tend to consider warnings about the long-term harm that smoking causes.

In addition, in two different studies, both carried by Emeritus Professor Phil Gendall, researchers questioned how young adults react to warning themes.

Professor Gendall said: “We found that warnings illustrating the social risks of smoking and the harm smoking inflicts on innocent third parties, such as children and animals, as well as exposing the tobacco industry’s practices, elicited strong negative emotions and were significantly less likely to be selected in choice tasks.”

The researchers also urged the government to undertake an on-going programme of warning development and implementation.

They highlighted the need to periodically refresh on-pack warnings in order to list all possible reasons for quitting.

Another recommendation includes an ‘intensive’ mass media campaign focused on quelling disagreement among various groups on the packaging initiative.