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No Tobacco Day

“To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know because I've done it a thousand times."

~ Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Originally designed as an April Fool's joke tartan by yours truly, this curio tartan has found its place on the calendar for World No Tobacco Day. Purposely designed to be as loathsomely coloured as possible, Dirty Lung uses "the ugliest colour in the world," Pantone 448 C (also known as Opaque Couché), determined by a 2012 study in which a thousand smokers assessed and chose the colour they found most visually offensive. The winner, a sewage-toned greenish brown was originally deployed on plain cigarette packaging in Australia along with health warnings to discourage cigarette smokers from succumbing to their addiction. To complement Opaque Couché, this tartan also includes the equally offensive runner-up colours to round out this visual equivalent of ptomaine poisoning: Chartreuse (expectorant, anyone?), Violent Purple (for that smoker's hack), Stargoon (a peachy beige reminiscent of old salmon which should not be served ), Smoke White (cough, cough), and Black (mascara stains under blood-shot eyes). Stay healthy, folks! 🚭 🃏 😜

The only tartan designed to be as loathsomely coloured as possible, this tartan was originally conceived as a textile prank for April Fool's Day, and named for World No Tobacco Day.   


The prominent colour in this tartan, Pantone 448 C, also called "opaque couché, is a sewage-tinged hue determined by experts to be "the ugliest colour in the world," and was derived by an Australian study on tobacco product packaging, whose mission was to specifically target and influence smokers purchasing habits.

In 2012, the Australian government hired a research agency to spearhead the new package design for all tobacco products. But instead of the marketing firm's usual goal, they were tasked to create a carton and packaging that would look as unappealing as possible, as a way to discourage smoking over the long-term and improve overall public health.

After three months, seven studies, and gathering data from more than 1000 regular smokers,  the researchers finally settled on what was deemed the most offensive color, Opaque Couché (Pantone 448 C) to print alongside new graphic health warnings.

In addition to Pantone 448 C, also included in this particular tartan design are some runner-ups for the most unappealing colours to smokers (and to most people in general):

Chartreuse - the greenish-yellow colour of infected lung phlegm

Stargoon - the color of faded salmon, a neural-net generated fleshy beige colour with its distinctive AI-generated name, for stained teeth

Smoke White - puff, puff

Black - the colour of mascara stains under blood-shot eyes

Violent Purple - dark broken veins in face due to a hacking smoker's cough (note: although this is a not  unappealing colour, itt really highlights the Chartreuse)

Designer's note: Ironically, the addition of the colour Puce, another heavily disliked color (named for the color of bloodstains on linen or bedsheets (even after being laundered), from a flea's droppings, or after a flea has been crushed), somehow made this tartan more attractive, and so was not used after all.

All questionable humour aside, the focus of World No Tobacco Day is to increase awareness on: the negative impact that tobacco has on people’s lung health, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease and the fundamental role lungs play for the health and well-being of all people.  Yearly campaigns also serve as a call to action, advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and engaging stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control.

Is this the world's ugliest tartan?  Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?  Colour associations are deeply personal, and although it's not difficult to make a tartan that hurts the eye with a poor choice of sett or bright contrasting colors, it's surprising difficult to intentionally design a truly ugly tartan.

For a list of the the ugliest colours and their nasty associations, click the Opaque Couché cigarette packaging for one colour theory pundit's humourous assessment.

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