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What Do Smokers Think of the UK's New Sludge Coloured Cigarette Packets?

Following a High Court ruling, all fags sold in the UK must be packaged in the "ugliest colour in the world" – we asked smokers if this could finally kill off smoking for good.
May 20, 2016, 2:20pm

A mock-up of what your fags are going to look like from now on

The colour of the mucus choked up by an asthmatic on 20 B&H a day, " Pantone 448 C opaque couché ", is "officially the world's ugliest colour". Market researchers in Australia found that the colour made people think of unsightly things like "tar", "dirty" and "death". Following a High Court ruling, all cigarettes sold in the UK must be packaged in this shade of dirty-death-tar green. Sixty percent of every packet will also have to be plastered in health warnings and all branding beyond a name in a standardised font is banned, meaning the new packets give off a vaguely Soviet vibe . Ten-packs, menthols and "lipstick" cigarettes are all also on their way out.

Smoking rates in the UK are at their lowest level ever, with less than one in five over-18s suckling at the nicotine teat on a regular basis. But those people still puffing away are hardcore. They're willing to look past 80,000 deaths each year, and eye-watering prices. Could Pantone 448C persuade them to stub out their fags for good? Or is third-day-of-a-festival-shit-green the new black?


We followed trails of catarrh and the sound of hacking coughs through the streets of Shoreditch to find some smoking areas and discover what smokers think of the government's plan to make the coolest thing of the previous century truly uncool.

Tom, 23

VICE: What does this shade of green make you think of?
Tom: Gunge. What kind of gunge?

Like bodily slime, or Get Your Own Back slime?
Oh, definitely sewer slime. It reminds me of this overflowing drain around the back of my house. If you walked up to a tobacco counter and saw packets this colour, would it put you off?
Probably not, no, I'd just get myself a nice little tin to keep my packet of cigs in. Maybe I'll go into the cool cigarette tin business. There could be a lot of money in it, now I think about it. Would cigarette packets the colour of sewer slime have put you off smoking as a teenager?
I started when I was 18, but it wouldn't have put me off. Nah. If you want to smoke, you want to smoke. In some ways, it's quite a nice colour. If it worked well in the space I'd consider using it to decorate a bathroom or kitchenette.

Nice one, mate.

Chloe, 22

VICE: What does this colour make you think of?
Chloe: I don't know how to say it in English… in French we'd call it caca.

Caca? Like poop?
No, no, not caca – khaki.

Oh, right. Sorry.
Yeah, soldiers more than poop. I should work on my English.

So, this is the colour all cigarette packets are going to be in England.
I don't think it will affect me, because I don't really care about packaging. In France they're all going to be white, but a lot of young people smoke so I don't think it will make a difference. I started when I was 16 because my friends were all doing it, but in France this generation of children is all smoking and taking drugs from the age of 12. No one cares.

Helen, 49

VICE: What does this colour make you think of?
Helen: Mud. Sludge. But I've seen worse on cigarette packets, to be honest. Pictures of lungs, growths, stuff like that. Either way, it doesn't make a difference. We all know it's bad for us. Stopping people doesn't have anything to do with the packaging. In fact, the worse it looks, the cooler it is. It's almost a challenge for teenagers. You can't win.

So how do you stop people?
I don't know. If I knew I'd stop myself.


How long have you been trying to quit for?
Six years.

It's going well then.
I didn't smoke at all this week, actually, but I cracked today. I've got a little e-cig, which is good, but it's been a hard day.

Vikram, 32

VICE: What does this colour make you think of?
Vikram: Algae. It wouldn't stop me buying cigarettes, though. I'd buy them either way. Maybe it would have an impact on new beginners, but not for actual smokers.

How long have you been smoking for?
Well, I'm a very occasional smoker. Sure.
I've been smoking for about ten years. I guess I started because of peer pressure, so the packet wouldn't make any difference.

Caitlin, 21 and Sophie, 22

What does this colour remind you of?
Sophie: The army.
Caitlin: Mud.
Sophie: Faeces. It's not a very happy colour, is it? It's a bit miserable.

Do you think cigarettes should be happy?
Sophie: Well, they make me happy. I don't think any colour would ever have put me off. I started when I was 16, because it was cool to smoke. I guess it's not a very cool colour, but who knows? Anything can become cool. It might be once people start up.


More on huffing fags:

I Tried to Get Healthy Without Quitting Smoking

Our E-Cigs Are Going to Burn Our Faces and Houses Down

I Went to the UK's Biggest Vaping Event and All I Got was Empathy