Could Using The “World’s Ugliest” Color Stop People From Smoking?

Opaque Couché, described as looking like “death,” “filth,” and “lung tar,” is widely considered the world’s ugliest color. With a reputation like that you wouldn’t expect the hue to be used much, but it is — as a way to deter consumers from purchasing cigarettes in some areas of the world.

The New York Times reports that health authorities in Australia, U.K., France, and Ireland are using, or plan to use, the color on cigarette packages in hopes that it keeps the tobacco products out of consumers’ hands.

The use of the color as a deterrent began back in 2012, when market research company GfK Bluemoon was contracted by the Australian government to survey smokers on what the world’s ugliest color was.

Nearly 1,000 of those smokers said the most repulsive color was opaque couché, describing it as death, filth, and baby excrement, among other things.

Armed with this new information, the Australian government mandated that “plain packaging” be used for cigarettes. However, the Times reports that packaging isn’t exactly “plain.”

Instead, they employ the opaque couché as the background for photos of rotted teeth, tongues with tumors and dangerously tiny newborns, and warnings about smoking’s dangers printed in type larger than the brand names.

Australia says the campaign has been so successful in getting smokers to quit that other countries have jumped onto the bandwagon.

The Guardian reports that the plain packaging went into effect in the U.K. following the European Court of Justice rebuffing legal challenges from the tobacco industry.

Still, it doesn’t look like the distasteful packaging will be making a debut in the U.S. soon, as the Times reports that the American Tobacco industry has blocked all attempted to put the color and photos on packages sold in the U.S.

How to Get Smokers to Quit? Enlist World’s Ugliest Color [The New York Times]