ISLAMABAD: Health experts said on Wednesday that every two in five smokers in Pakistan initiate cigarette smoking before they reach the age of 10. Quoting a survey research, they said that comprehensive warning labels were effective among youth and there was also evidence that they were prevented from initiating the practice of smoking. They said that research shows that large, graphic warning labels cause smokers to smoke fewer cigarettes, avoid smoking in front of children and pregnant women, and smoke less at home.According to an official of Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, studies show that a large proportion of smokers have an inadequate knowledge of the health effects associated with smoking and underestimate the severity and magnitude of those risks. He said that picture health warnings deter youth from starting to smoke while graphic depictions of disease were perceived by youth and adults as the most effective warning theme. He added that under Article 11 of WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), each country should adopt and implement effective packaging and labelling measures within a period of three years after entry into force of the convention.He said that currently graphic warnings have been adopted by about one-third of countries while many countries have also increased warning sizes besides mandated picture warnings on the boxes. He added that the worldwide trend for larger and picture health warnings was growing and unstoppable. He noted that researchers have proved the effectiveness of graphic health warnings on smokers as a pack-a-day smoker would see the warnings at least 7300 times per year. Similarly, graphic warnings detract from the pack image, inform smokers, motivate quitting and reduce the number of times people smoke while it costs little to governments and minimal costs to industry.A medical expert, Dr Wasim Khawaja, said that plain packaging, which is now being introduced in some developed countries, would prohibit brand colours, logos and design elements on packages, and would require that packages only come in a standard shape and format. He said that under plain packaging, health warnings would continue to appear. The brand portion of the package would have the same colour on all packs while text would have the same location, font, style and size. He said that plain packaging would kerb the tobacco industry’s use of the package as a promotional vehicle, increase the effectiveness of package warnings, kerb package deception and would decrease tobacco use. He remarked that both the Article 1142 and the Article 1343 guidelines under the FCTC recommend that countries consider implementing plain packaging.General Secretary, Pakistan National Heart Association (PNHA, Sana Ullah Ghumman said that high smoking rates contribute to a significant number of early deaths, high health care costs and productivity losses. He added that every day 274 people die in Pakistan due to tobacco-related diseases. He linked the major cause of increasing such disease to the unhealthy life- style, largely due to consumption of tobacco. He noted that every year, around 80,000 Pakistanis would get different heart diseases, further adding that after every two minutes, one countryman suffers from heart-attack in the country.