Tobacco remains the number one cause of preventable death, claiming more than 400,000 American lives annually. The American Legacy Foundation's mission is to build a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit, and as part of the wider public health community has taken part in National Public Health Week (April 2-8) for many years.

Under the leadership of President and CEO Dr. Cheryl Healton, the foundation is now capable of continuing its important work should a challenging situation -- such as pandemic flu, occur in the nation's capital area. More than a year ago, Healton consulted with the foundation's Board of Directors and implemented a foundation-wide emergency preparedness plan that would enable the organization's staff to continue its life-saving work even in the event of a national disaster.

"We embraced the challenge to outfit every Legacy employee household with basic necessities -- enough food, water and technological capability to withstand an emergency situation for up to approximately 6 to 8 weeks," Cheryl Healton, Dr. PH, said. "We felt this was the responsible approach to take, given our location in Washington, D.C. Such an effort is also vital to our commitment to the health and wellness of our staff, and being able to maintain our important and life-saving work under challenging conditions."

Materials shared with foundation staff included emergency information packets, detailing how to respond in specific situations and how to plan for the best use of emergency resources, including food and water.

"The American Legacy Foundation has created an outstanding model for continuing essential operations during an emergency," said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, executive director of the American Public Health Association. "The work of health-related organizations and businesses that preserve health and prevent disability is even more critical during times of crisis. We are grateful to the American Legacy Foundation for their leadership in developing a model preparedness program and for their continuing partnership with National Public Health Week."

Information provided by the American Public Health Association includes details on preparing employees -- especially hourly workers -- for emergency situations. That topic is the focus of the day on Wednesday during National Public Health Week. Other focal issues include addressing needs of mothers with children in the household, local food banks, children in kindergarten through 12th grade and individuals with chronic health conditions.

The American Legacy Foundation(R) is dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation develops programs that address the health effects of tobacco use, especially among vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco, through grants, technical assistance and training, partnerships, youth activism, and counter-marketing and grassroots marketing campaigns. The foundation's programs include truth(R), a national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as contributing to significant declines in youth smoking; EXSM, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use; and a nationally-renowned program of outreach to priority populations. The American Legacy Foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. Visit americanlegacy.

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