Getting smokers to quit 'one of the biggest challenges in our health system'

As countries marked World No Tobacco Day on Friday and a new anti-smoking bill is being debated in South Africa, Phemelo Motene gets the input of chief executive officer of Proactive Health Solutions, Dr Fundile Nyathi.

Read: New anti-smoking bill: Pundits debate the pros and cons

He points out that nicotine is one of the most potent chemicals that cause addiction and that is why many smokers find it so difficult to kick the habit.

Once your body is used to nicotine, it continues to demand more.

Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions

When you have taken the decision to want to quit smoking - almost half of the people who've made that decision fail, because of the power of nicotine addiction.

Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions

According to Dr Nyathi, smoking is still largely acceptable in South Africa, which adds to the problem.

It's one of the biggest challenges in the health system to get people to kick the habit of smoking.

Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions

Debate continues to rage over whether vaping is a healthy, or at least healthier alternative.

Dr Nyathi says while initial marketing claimed that vapers would get the nicotine they craved without the harmful added chemicals, current research says otherwise.

(It's) maybe a little bit better than cigarettes but certainly what we should be aiming for is not to substitute smoking but to actually get people to stop smoking.

Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions

Since 1994 he says, government campaigns have helped to reduce the number of smokers from 33% to 20% of the population.

However, in the last decade that figure has remained constant, with 44 000 South Africans dying annually as a direct result of tobacco smoking.

At least one in five people, that is 20%, they're actually smoking cigarettes.

Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions

The Western Cape has got a third of the burden of people who are smoking in the whole country.

Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions

For more of this conversation, listen below:


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