Could ugly, badly designed packaging discourage people from smoking?

If functional, ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing design encourages a certain behavior, would the opposite also be true? Does ugly, non user-friendly design then discourage a certain behavior?

Though the answer is not quite clear, recent design graduates Jennifer Noon and Sarah Shaw explored this concept with their Plain Cigarette Packaging.

With the British government considering plain packaging as part of an effort to make cigarette smoking less appealing by toning down the packaging, Noon and Shaw took a slighting different approach but hope for the same outcome.

Their first step was to make the pack less ergonomic and thus awkward to carry and store. The triangular shape of the Plain Cigarette Packaging makes the cigarettes difficult to get out. The box is also an uncomfortable shape to fit into a pocket.

Using an “off-putting” colour was another conscious decision by the duo. The yellow-green colour on the outside of the pack is believed to have negative connotations while the “mouldy” texture serves to further reduce the glamour appeal of the pack.

To further put people off smoking the warning imagery depicts yellowing fingernails, wrinkles and bad teeth, all side-effects of the puffing habit. The text-based warning point to the reduction in life expectancy caused by cigarette smoking and the health improvements believes to coincide with quitting smoking.

Hard to say whether it will work but an interesting design idea nonetheless.