Outspoken actor Tom Cruise has been criticised by firefighters suffering the effects of smoke inhalation from the World Trade Center terrorist attacks (11SEP01) for his controversial views on their treatment.

The Scientology devotee has urged emergency services victims to give up their medication and inhalers as part of a 'purification rundown' which favours sauna sessions, ingestion of cooking oil and large doses of niacin as cures instead.

As co-founder of the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, Cruise has also supported a new Scientology clinic preaching these remedies near the Ground Zero site.

But the unorthodox therapy has been slammed as ridiculous and potentially harmful by members of the medical profession, as well as sufferers themselves.

Deputy Fire Commissioner FRANK GRIBBON tells gossip site PageSix.com, "If our doctors are prescribing medication, and they (Scientologists) are saying 'don't take it', that's a problem for us."

He adds that the department's deputy chief medical officer Dr DAVID PREZANT has supported criticism of the wacky treatment, saying, "He (Prezant) is not pleased when patients are advised to disobey doctors' orders. That's where he drew the line."

Cruise, however, has defended the venture, claiming, "More than 500 individuals have recovered health and job fitness through this project."

Tonight (14DEC05) he will make a rare personal appearance at a fundraising dinner in New York City for the charity effort.