Britain reconsiders cigarette regulation

Until recently, the British government appeared to be on the verge of rejecting sweeping restrictions on cigarette packaging. But on Thursday it changed course, announcing a policy review that could lead to curbs on labeling and require the use of neutral colors on packages.

The effort is the latest in a series of health initiatives across Europe meant to force the tobacco industry to make cigarettes appear less attractive to younger people, and in that way prevent them from taking up the habit.

Britain’s inquiry, which would conclude by next March, will focus on the experience of Australia, which has introduced standardized packaging. Similar plans may soon be adopted in Ireland and New Zealand.

This could mean that brand names would be restricted to a limited display in uniform fonts and that the color of packs would be standardized in Britain.