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The Ugliest Color In The World May Actually Change Lives

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Opaque couché or Pantone 448C is a dark brown shade that Australian experts voted as the ugliest color in the world, but research shows it may actually help discourage smoking.

Gfk Bluemoon, a research agency, was commissioned by the Australian government in 2012 to design a cigarette packaging with a color that would be least inviting for smokers.

The research was something new for the agency as it is used to coming up with campaigns that entice the consumers to buy products. This research, in fact, discourages people from buying.

''We didn't want to create attractive, aspirational packaging designed to win customers ... Instead our role was to help our client reduce demand, with the ultimate aim to minimize use of the product,'' said Victoria Parr, a market researcher from Gfk.

The research agency conducted seven researches over the course of 3 months to identify the ugliest color. Over 1,000 smokers participated in the studies.

Before 448C was chosen, the researchers also considered colors like lime green, beige, white, mustard and dark gray. Parr said many of the respondents associated 448C with tar, dirt and death.

The commission was part of Australia's decision to sell cigarettes in plain packaging rather than design it with promotional slogans and brand logos. The packaging must have the brand name in small, standardized fonts with health warnings and graphic images of tobaccos' ill effects prominently placed.

How Plain Packaging Deters Smoking

In a post-implementation review, Australia achieved a 0.55 percent (108,000 people) decrease in the rate of smoking among smokers aged 14 years old and above.

"Plain packaging reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products. It kills the glamour, which is appropriate for a product that kills people," said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan. "It restricts tobacco advertising and promotion. It limits misleading packaging and labelling. And it increases the effectiveness of health warnings."

Oleg Chestnov, Assistant Director-General for WHO Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, said that Australia's success story is a clear demonstration that plain packaging indeed has a great impact on curbing cigarette smoking.

Several other countries such as France, the UK and Northern Ireland are now enforcing the use of plain tobacco packaging due to Australia's success. Other countries like Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore and Panama are mulling to implement the law as well.

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