And other tobacco products will be expected to follow suit by 2010.
The Department of Health said the written warnings had been a success with research showing more than 90,000 smokers had been motivated to call the NHS quit line because of them.
But officials said it was time to take a tougher approach after progress made in countries that have already introduced them.
Canada became the first nation to use images in 2001 with surveys one year on showing a third of quitters had been motivated by the images.
Three smokers give their verdict on the new images
Similar warnings are also used in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and Singapore, prompting the EU to encourage European countries to act.
Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson said: "Written health warnings have encouraged many smokers to stop.
"These new stark picture warnings emphasise the harsh health realities of continuing to smoke."
And Deborah Arnott, director of anti-smoking campaign group Ash, added: "The introduction of picture warnings on tobacco products is a strong visual reminder of the horrendous illnesses caused by smoking and the evidence is that they work."
But Simon Clark, of smokers' lobby group Forest, said smokers were being "unfairly" targeted, pointing out images are not being introduced on drinks.
"There will be a little impact in the short-term, but in the long-term they will just become wallpaper and be ignored."
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