Smoking in Pakistan: Startling facts
ISLAMABAD, June 15 (APP): Smoking in Pakistan: Startling facts
Health experts on Wednesday said that almost two in five smokers in Pakistan initiate cigarette smoking before the age of 10 years.
Quoting a survey research they said that comprehensive warning labels were effective among youth and there was evidence that they were prevented from smoking initiation.
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 said that under Article 11 of WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) each country should adopt and implement effective packaging and labeling 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 increased warning size besides mandated picture warnings.
He added the worldwide trend for larger and picture health warnings was growing and unstoppable.
He said that researches 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 number of times people smoke while it costs little to governments and minimal costs to industry.
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 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 curb the tobacco industry's use of the package as a promotional vehicle, increase the effectiveness of package warnings, curb package deception and would decrease tobacco use.
He said 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 loss.
He said that every day 274 people die in Pakistan due to tobacco related diseases. He added the major cause of increasing such disease was unhealthy life- style mainly due to use of tobacco.
He said that every year around 80,000 Pakistanis get different heart diseases, adding, after every two minutes one countryman suffer from heart-attack in the country.