Context: After the World Trade Center (WTC) collapse, 15% (1,767) of rescue workers from the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) considered themselves to be current cigarette smokers. Post-WTC collapse, 98% reported acute respiratory symptoms, and 81% reported health concerns. Nonetheless, 29% of current smokers increased tobacco use, and 23% of ex-smokers resumed cigarette smoking.
Objective: To determine the effect of a comprehensive tobacco-cessation program using combination tobacco-dependency treatment medications adjusted to the individual’s daily tobacco use.
Design: FDNY cigarette smokers enrolled in “Tobacco Free With FDNY,” a no-cost quit-smoking program providing counseling, support, and medications. At the end of the 3-month treatment phase and at the 6-month and 12-month follow-up visits, abstinence rates were confirmed by expired carbon monoxide levels or by the verification of a household member.
Setting: FDNY Bureau of Health Services between August 1, 2002 and October 30, 2002.
Participants: A total of 220 current cigarette smokers from the FDNY.
Results: At study enrollment, the mean (± SD) tobacco use was 20 ± 7 cigarettes per day, and the mean tobacco dependency, as assessed by a modified Fagerstrom test score, was 6.7 ± 2.5 (maximum score, 10). Based on tobacco use, 20% of enrollees used three types of nicotine medications, 64% used two types, 14% used one type, and 3% used no medications. Additionally, 14% of enrollees used bupropion sustained release. The confirmed continuous abstinence rates were 47%, 36%, and 37%, respectively, after 3 months of treatment and at the 6-month and 12-month follow-up. Abstinence rates did not correlate with the history of tobacco use but correlated inversely with tobacco dependency. Adverse events and maximal nicotine medication use were unrelated, and no one experienced a serious adverse event.
Conclusion: Tobacco dependency treatment using combination nicotine medications is effective and safe. Future studies should consider the following: (1) both history of tobacco use and withdrawal symptoms to determine the number and dose of nicotine medications; and (2) continuing combination treatment for > 3 months.