Public health minister Jane Ellison announced the move, which follows extensive consultation. It will be a free vote, meaning MPs can vote how they wish, irrespective of party lines, and the decision will apply in England, but not Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Evidence received suggested that plain packaging would improve public health and reduce the number of smokers.
But cigarette companies are likely to strongly oppose the plans, arguing that they damage their trade mark rights, and infringe Article 17 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
All of the major tobacco companies in the UK said they will challenge plain packaging, according to a report in the Financial Times (subscription required).
Australia is the only country to introduce plain packaging so far. Its law led to a challenge at the WTO.
For more details, see our tobacco trade marks topic page.