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PA Professional Fire Fighters Association is First State Association in Nation to Offer Smoking Cessation Program
Date:6/2/2009

- Protecting the health of fire fighters top priority for PA Professional Fire Fighters Association through cancer legislation & tobacco free efforts -

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association (PPFFA) today announced that it will become the first Fire Fighter State Association to offer a comprehensive smoking cessation program in the nation. This program is part of its long standing commitment to protecting the health of fire fighters. This announcement coincides with a critical legislative debate taking place in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives regarding presumptive language to protect fire fighters who have cancer.

"Today is a monumental day for the health of all fire fighters in Pennsylvania," PPFFA President Art Martynuska said. "As we anxiously await successful passage of House Bill 1231 that will help our fellow fire fighters who are battling cancer, today PPFFA also takes an important step forward in proactively protecting the health of fire fighters by becoming the first union in Pennsylvania to attempt to become tobacco free."

Joining the more than 100 PPFFA members at the event, Rep. Kevin Murphy (D-Lackawanna), prime sponsor of HB 1231, Rep. Frank Farry (R-Bucks), Rep. Bryan Barbin (D-Cambria) and Deborah Brown, acting CEO for the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, lent their support to PPFFA and their health priority efforts.

"I know I join with all Pennsylvanians in thanking the brave men and women of the PPFFA who put their lives on the line for all of us every day," Rep. Murphy said. "But that bravery also comes at a price -- an increased risk of contracting cancer. Successful passage of HB 1231 is one of the best thank you's we can give to fire fighters by ensuring their access to cancer treatment. This, combined with PPFFA's new tobacco free initiative, paves the way for improving the health of fire fighters across Pennsylvania."

Following the national lead of the International Association of Fire Fighters, the PPFFA is the first state fire fighter association in the country and the first organized union in Pennsylvania to attempt to become tobacco free. The initiative includes all cigarettes and other smoking products. The PPFFA is working closely with its local affiliates to ensure that this policy is adopted at the local level and that all fire fighters have access to comprehensive smoking cessation treatments through their health care insurers. These treatments, which are recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include all FDA-approved over-the-counter and prescription medications, counseling and multiple quit attempts.

"The American Lung Association is pleased to partner with the PPFFA in its smoking cessation efforts and in helping any fire fighters to conquer their nicotine addiction," Brown said. "It's through the leadership of organizations like the PPFFA that smokers across Pennsylvania can be energized to quit. With improved access to comprehensive smoking cessation treatments, Pennsylvanians have an opportunity to bring about a truly smoke-free commonwealth."

Smoking is the number-one cause of premature death and a significant contributor to heart disease, lung disease, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It contributes to more than a dozen types of cancers, many of which are often fatal, and smoking is the leading cause of fires, including fires that have claimed the lives of so many PPFFA members.

Studies have shown that while 70 percent of smokers want to quit, fewer than five percent who quit on their own do it successfully. Smokers need access need access to comprehensive smoking cessation treatments and the ability to create individualized quit plans with their health care providers. The PPFFA tobacco free initiative will encourage members and their families to take on healthier lifestyles by quitting smoking and will provide the following information to make quitting more successful:

  • Health risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting;
  • Tips on how friends and family can help a smoker through the quitting process;
  • Smoking cessation programming through a partnership with the American Lung Association; and
  • How to encourage health insurance plans to make sure they cover smoking cessation treatments

In addition to the PPFFA's tobacco initiative, the organization has been actively pursuing HB 1231, commonly known as the cancer presumption bill. Leading studies have shown that fire fighters are at a much higher risk of contracting cancer than the general population due to exposure to dangerous carcinogens. HB 1231, which would amend the Workers' Compensation Act to protect fire fighters, specifically addresses those cancers that have been identified as the most prevalent among fire fighters, including cancers affecting the skin or the central nervous, lymphatic, digestive, hematological, urinary, skeletal, oral, breast, testicular, genitourinary, liver or prostate systems. The bill has been voted out of the Labor Relations Committee and is waiting for second consideration by the House of Representatives.

For additional information about the PPFFA's tobacco free initiative or HB 1231, visit www.ppffa.org.

The rally & press conference will be available via satellite feed on Tuesday, June 2, at 4:00 p.m.

FEED DATE: Tuesday, June 2, 2009

FEED TIME: 4:00 to 4:15 p.m. (Eastern)

TYPE: C Band Digital satellite

SATELLITE: Anik F2

TRANSPONDER: 6A1

DOWNLINK: 3906.5 Horiz

SYM RATE: 4.232

FEC: 5/6

TROUBLE: 717-910-2959

A full press release can be found at www.ppffa.org. Contact Rich Gawlik (610-393-3011) at PPFFA with any questions regarding the event.

The PPFFA is an association of 59 locals affiliated with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). The PPFFA represents over 10,000 active and retired fire fighters from across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association
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