NYC firefighters and EMS workers go tobacco-free

(Orlando, Florida, October 29, 2003) Since the launch of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Tobacco Cessation Program in August 2002, nearly 400 firefighters and EMS workers have participated in the educational tobacco-free programs, with more than half becoming tobacco-free at 3-months. Year-One results of the FDNY Tobacco Cessation Program were presented this week at a press conference in Orlando, Florida, during CHEST 2003, the annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP). The FDNY Tobacco Cessation Program was initiated in 2002 as a result of the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy. With support from The CHEST Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the ACCP, Pharmacia (now Pfizer), and the International Association of Firefighters, FDNY created the first-ever smoking cessation program for firefighters, EMS rescue workers, and their spouses.

"Quitting smoking is often a long and challenging process, but making a commitment to quit is one of the best decisions a person can make," said David J. Prezant, MD, FCCP, FDNY's deputy medical officer and co-designer of the program. "We believe the extremely high penetration rate of our cessation program, about a five-fold greater rate than other programs, is due to offering dedicated workers a voluntary, nonpunitive, free program designed by experts and administered by credible health-care professionals. The program's success also stems from the participants' determination to quit using tobacco and become healthier individuals, especially after their exposure to World Trade Center dust."

In a survey conducted in the months after September 11th, Dr. Prezant found that approximately 1,500 of 11,000 FDNY firefighters were cigarette smokers, with 29 percent having increased their habit since 9/11 and 23 percent having re-started cigarette smoking after 9/11. After one year of rolling classes, 214 of the FDNY cigarette smokers enrolled in the 12-week program.

Contact: Jennifer Stawarz
American College of Chest Physicians

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