Graphic warnings on cigarette packs
Horrific images of diseased lungs and rotting teeth are set to appear on cigarette packets from Friday to warn against the dangers of smoking.
The graphic images will accompany a health warning on every tobacco product sold in shops from February 1.
Health Minister Dr James Reilly said he hopes the pictures will shock smokers into quitting and prevent young people from taking up the habit.
He added: "Half, or one in two, of all long-term smokers will die from smoking related diseases. This is a stark statistic. There is no doubt that if tobacco were discovered today, knowing what we know about its lethal effects, it would not be a legal product."
The minister was joined by Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan in launching the new regulations. All tobacco products placed on the market after Friday must carry the gruesome warnings.
The requirement builds on existing legislative measures to tackle smoking, including the 2009 ban on the display and advertising of tobacco products in shops.
Other images that will appear on the packets include those of an operating table and a child being forced to wear an oxygen mask.
Research in other countries has shown that health warnings with graphic pictures exposing the health risks of smoking effectively discourages would-be smokers.
The World Health Organisation revealed that the introduction of photo images on cigarette packs in Canada resulted in a fourfold increase in smokers' intentions to quit - from 20% before to 87% after. In Brazil, 56% of people changed their opinion about the health consequences after the new packaging was introduced.
Dr Holohan said: "We should never lose sight of the detrimental impact that smoking has on our society. It remains the greatest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in Ireland, killing over 5,200 people a year."