Public Release: 

NYC firefighters and EMS workers go tobacco-free

FDNY tobacco cessation program shows 40 percent quit rate at 6 months

American College of Chest Physicians

(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. Of the participants, 88 percent were treated with nicotine replacement therapy, with the most using Nicotrol® patch and inhaler, and 14 percent with nicotine replacement therapy plus buproprion SR. Follow-up sessions indicated that 64 percent of the enrollees were tobacco free at 3-months, and 39 percent were tobacco free at 6-months. Program quit rates show a 10-fold increase compared to previous studies not using medications and a two- to three-fold increase compared to trials using single nicotine replacement therapy of any type.

The FDNY Tobacco Cessation Program uses a multi-modal approach, incorporating proven methods of smoking cessation with the unique needs of rescue workers. The program uses combination nicotine replacement therapy (patch, inhaler, spray) and other medications as needed with behavior-stress support from smoking cessation experts. Participants of the program also have access to a free online program from Pfizer called Nicotrol® Helping HandTM, which is available to all smokers who are trying to quit. The interactive site provides personalized information and quit tips and enlists the support of friends and family members by educating them on support roles throughout the cessation process.

"By supporting the FDNY Tobacco Cessation Program, The CHEST Foundation reinforces its commitment to educating the community on the dangers of tobacco use and raising awareness about general lung health," said Diane E. Stover, MD, FCCP, Chief of Pulmonary Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and President of The CHEST Foundation. "We commend our FDNY firefighters and rescue workers for overcoming, yet, another great challenge and hope that their courage and resolve to quit smoking will inspire other smokers in New York and around the country to do the same."

The Tobacco Cessation Program is offered free-of-charge to participants and is made possible by FDNY, The CHEST Foundation, Pfizer Corporation (makers of the Nicotrol, line of smoking cessation products), and the International Association of Firefighters. In addition, smoking cessation expert and co-designer of the program Matthew P. Bars, MS, of the Smoking Consultation Service, and other health-care professionals from Montefiore Medical Center, Long Island Jewish - North Shore Medical Center, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have assisted in support sessions for participants. The supporting professionals continue to use the program to help train pulmonary fellows in the art and science of tobacco cessation.

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The CHEST Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the ACCP, whose mission is to provide resources to advance prevention and treatment of chest diseases. Smoking cessation is a priority of The CHEST Foundation and is pursued through education, collaboration, communication, and recognition.

CHEST 2003 is the 69th annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians, being held in Orlando, October 25-30. ACCP represents more than 15,700 members who provide clinical respiratory, critical care, and cardiothoracic patient care in the United States and throughout the world. ACCP's mission is to promote the prevention and treatment of diseases of the chest through leadership, education, research, and communication.

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