Plain cigarette packaging has arrived in New Zealand with legislation preventing the tobacco industry from using branding on cigarette packs taking effect on Wednesday
A 12 week "wash out" period has begun which will see the market cleansed of existing stock and plain packaging hitting the shelves.
Tobacco packets will be the same standard dark brown/green colour as seen in Australia and the UK and graphic pictures and health warnings will be enlarged to cover 75 per cent of the front of tobacco packs.
Tobacco researcher Justinn Cochran says her recent study found that exposing smokers to negative health warnings - particularly those that are more disgusting - can reduce how much attention they pay to tobacco packaging, which often serves as a reminder to smoke.
"These findings suggest that these legislative changes could be helpful in reducing the appeal of smoking and perhaps contribute towards changing attitudes around smoking," Ms Cochran said.
Meanwhile University of Otago Professor Janet Hoek says the plain packaging is a step forward, but is calling on the government to ensure standardised packs maintain their impact on smokers.
"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," she said.
On-pack warnings need to resonate with diverse groups of smokers and be refreshed regularly so smokers are exposed to multiple reasons for quitting.
"We are only seven years from the Smokefree 2025 goal, so we need to make sure that the policies introduced achieve maximum impact over a sustained period," Prof Hoek said.
The introduction of plain packaging in Australia in 2011 accelerated the decline of smoking prevalence and led to approximately 100, 000 fewer smokers in the 36 months following.