In tough new government measures cigarettes will be sold in plain, unbranded packaging.

By stripping ciggy packets of all logos, shiny paper and colours, and leaving only the health warnings the government aims to make smoking less attractive to the general public.

According to the 2008-09 figures, smokers made up 22 percent of the population in Britain.

The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, is expected to announce the plan to coincide on national No Smoking Day on Wednesday.

The Government is also considering a ban on displaying cigarettes in shops, compelling retailers to keep them under the counter.

Shop and convenience stores owners have slammed the measures fearing they will be hit by extra costs.

Shane Brennan, from the Association of Convenience Stores, said any proposals must consider the impact on shops. “Plain packaging will have an impact on shops that needs to be properly understood but there is no evidence that it would help cut smoking,” he said.

“Covering up the displays would pass significant costs and operational burdens on shops.”

The measure is just the latest in a long line of government strategies to reduce the number of smokers including a ban on tobacco firms sponsoring sports events.