Plain Packaging of Cigarettes
Photo illustration of mandatory packaging for cigarettes sold in Australia.

Ireland is to order a ban on branded cigarette packages, aiming to become the first European country to follow the example of Australia and New Zealand.

The Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill was approved by the Irish Cabinet today.

If the motion passes into legislation, logos, trademarks, colours, designs and graphics will be replaced by graphic health warnings and uniform typeface, marking the name of the product.

Health minister Dr James Reilly said: "Given all we know about the dangers of smoking, it is not acceptable to allow the tobacco industry to use deceptive marketing gimmicks to lure our children into this deadly addiction and to deceive current smokers about the impact of their addiction."

He added that standardised packaging will "remove the final way for tobacco companies to promote their deadly product in Ireland". 

Australia introduced plain packaging in 2011, with New Zealand currently passing the legislation through its parliament.

In the UK, prime minister David Cameron ordered a further period of consultation in April with a decision over plain packaging due within a year.

The move attracted the ire of the anti-tobacco lobby, who pointed out that Cameron's election strategy guru Lynton Crosby is on the payroll of the tobacco industry.

More than 5,000 Irish people die from smoking-related illness each year. It's estimated that more than 100,000 people die from smoking-related causes in the UK every year.

Worldwide, one-in-ten adult deaths (about 5 million deaths annually) are attributable to tobacco, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).