President Michael D Higgins today signed the legislation requiring plain packaging for tobacco products.

The Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014 means that from May 2016, cigarette companies must start manufacturing only plain packaging for the Irish market.

From May 2017, only plain packaging will be allowed to be sold.

Welcoming the signing of the legislation, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs James Reilly said: "Today is a good day for Ireland and a great day for the future health of our children.

"We have taken a lead from Australia. But now we are providing a lead to Europe in implementing this legislation.”

He added: "We all must remain committed to achieving a tobacco free Ireland by 2025."