Ugly for the Greater Good: Australia’s Disgusting New Cigarette Packaging Is Up for Design of the Year

The Australian government’s Department for Health and Ageing (Australians spell things differently, a fact that first came to our attention during their National Contemporary Jewellery Award ceremony) has commissioned designs that are absolutely foul. They’re quite proud of how they turned out.

While clicking through the list of strikingly beautiful creations that made London’s Design Museum nominations for Design of the Year, one candidate in the graphic design category totally jumped out and struck me in the face: Australia’s new, really disgustingly graphic cigarette packaging, implemented just last month. Joe Camel’s cool and Lucky Strike’s circular logo have been wiped clean from every packet in the nation, and they’ve been replaced with probably the grossest and saddest anti-smoking imagery in existence: close-ups of decaying teeth, peripheral vascular disease-stricken feet, and frail premature infants that serve as reminders that you are, in fact, buying a box of cancer. Further eradicating any brand identity (which makes us wonder, for those brave enough to push past these off-putting photographs, how do you know you’re buying the pack that you want?), package colors have been limited to the basics: black, white, and olive green, all drab save for the bright yellow highlighting wordy warnings on the side.

Are they working? Reports that Australian vendors have been caught trying to cover these boxes with stickers and cardboard labels would suggest they’ve noticed a drop in cigarette sales. They sure ain’t pretty, but it looks like they’re doing their job.

— Janelle Zara