The U.K. House of Lords on March 16 approved a bill requiring cigarettes to be sold in standardized packaging.
The House of Commons on March 11 voted 367 to 113 in favor of the law, which passed through the House of Lords without a vote. Starting in May 2016, cigarettes must be sold in packages of the same shape, size and design, with the only difference between packages being the name of the brand and the graphic health warning displayed on the cartons. The U.K. is the third country to introduce plain-packaging legislation; Ireland introduced a similar bill earlier this month, and Australia implemented plain packaging in 2012.
While various health organizations have championed the legislation in the belief that standardized packaging will render cigarettes less appealing to smokers, particularly minors, tobacco companies—who fear a significant loss of profits once the law is implemented—have threatened legal action against the U.K. government. Opponents of plain packaging also point to the potential uptick in cigarette smuggling and illicit trade that could occur as a result.