Australia's move to impose plain packaging on cigarette companies means the knives are out.
Big Tobacco had been warning Kevin Rudd of a fight long before the Prime Minister announced his intention to hike the tax on cigarettes by 25 per cent and force them to be sold in plain packets.
The prospect of plain packaging had been on the table for several years, supported by the Government's health advisers and under investigation by a Senate committee.
Australia's three major players, Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco, had more than just their annual A$10 billion-plus ($12.8 billion) local market at risk.
They are all offshoots of global giants that have been slammed by international legislative dominoes that saw 168 countries sign up for the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and then begin following each other's lead in domestic laws and regulations.
They feared that if Australia introduced plain packaging, others would follow suit and gave advance warning that any such move by Canberra would be challenged under intellectual property and free trade agreements that could tie up bevies of lawyers for years.
While the Government and most legal experts are sure of the Government's constitutional and international legal ground - Rudd said any court challenge by Big Tobacco would "die in the ditch" - the reality is that the industry has vast funds and a deep pool of influence.
Plain packaging, even more than higher excise, alarms tobacco companies. They were warned by a British Citigroup investors' report this year that generic packaging would hit sales, and this was supported by findings from Scotland's University of Stirling.
Sydney University's School of Public Health found cigarette packaging promoted the appeal of smoking among the young and had emerged as the industry's primary marketing tool when other promotional options vanished.
So Rudd's plan to enforce plain packaging by July 1, 2012 means war.
The local tobacco groups can expect significant assistance from their international parents, which have already shown deep interest in the now-overtaken Senate inquiry, and have a well-established and very well-funded global lobby.
In Australia, the industry has taken a few political hits in the past decade.
It lost a significant rural lobby when economics and a federal buy-out scheme ended tobacco farming in 2006, adding to the blow of then-Labor leader Mark Latham's 2004 ban on donations to the party from tobacco companies.
Between 1998 and 2004, when the party was in Opposition, Labor had been handed A$566,360 by Philip Morris and British American. But the conservatives have not followed suit.
The Liberals and their rural-based junior partner, the Nationals, between them received A$1.28 million in the same period, and since 2004 have been given A$1.43 million in tobacco donations.
Big Tobacco's presence remains pervasive, reaching all levels of government, the internet, and skirting around sponsorship and advertising rules.