Tobacco giant Philip Morris International has launched legal action against Australia over its new plain packaging law for cigarettes.

Australia’s parliament has passed legislation that means all tobacco will need to be sold in plain olive-brown packets with graphic health warnings with no logos or promotional text from December 2012.

Within minutes of passing the law, Philip Morris announced its move to sue the Federal Government, arguing that the government passed the legislation despite being unable to demonstrate it would be effective at reducing smoking.

Anne Edwards, Philip Morris Asia spokesman, said the government ignored widespread concerns raised in Australia and internationally regarding the serious legal issues associated with plain packaging.

Health warnings with graphic images of the harmful effects of smoking will have to make up 75% of the front of the packaging and 90% of the back.

Other tobacco companies including British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco Group have also opposed the measures and said they will challenge the laws in court.