And it's now used on cigarette packs to help smokers quit.
Credit: Getty Images

Back in 2012, in an effort to deter smokers from reaching for a pack of cigarettes, the Australian government hired a market research agency to determine “the world’s ugliest color” for tobacco packaging.

Enter Pantone 448 C, the muddy green hue that surveyed smokers described as "death," "dirty," and "tar." Bingo.


The government mandated that this color grace cigarette packs, along with grisly graphic health warnings—and the results have been impressive. A government report estimated that the standardized packaging was responsible for a quarter of the 2.2% decline in smoking prevalence over the next 34 months. "This reduction alone would result in at least 118,000 fewer smokers," Mike Daube, a professor of health policy at Curtin University, told the Financial Times.

Now the U.K. is following suit. According to The Guardian, new legislation requires that all cigarette packs be Pantone 448 C, and display large images as health warnings.

Research backs up the decision to use visual tactics to encourage smoking cessation. A recent study found that gruesome pictorial warnings on tobacco packaging increased smokers’ likelihood of quitting more than textual warnings (like “smoking kills”) did.

For all those trying to give up cigs, here's hoping the new packaging is as repugnant as it's designed to be.