Uruguay will require plain tobacco packaging starting January 2020 to discourage smoking, Uruguay's Public Health Minister Jorge Basso said on Monday.

The announcement follows a court ruling against two tobacco companies which had sued to ban a bill demanding plain packaging as a way to discourage smoking.

"Justice, in this case, ruled in favor of the bill," said Basso, noting that "prevention and the promotion of healthy habits are the leading concerns of public policy on matters of health."

Plain packaging essentially prevents tobacco companies from marketing their product in an attractive way, by mandating drab colors, health warning messages and images, and banning logos.

According to data released by the Ministry of Public Health, since the government's anti-tobacco campaign was launched, smoking rate in the country has been reduced from 25 percent among those aged above 15 in 2009 to 21.6 percent in 2017.

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