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Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor goes tobacco-free as organizations focus on health disparities

“Big tobacco has ‘systematically’ targeted the Black Community for far too long with its deadly products, which threatens our liberation and emancipation."
Credit: The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission
Representatives of REACH, MSAAHCC, Historic Michigan Street Baptist Church, Rev. Edward Nash House, WUFO Radio, and Colored Musician Club and Museum stand with tobacco-free signs.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Three Buffalo organizations have partnered to focus on the health of the Black community in Buffalo through a new initiative to decrease or eliminate smoking in the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor.

The tobacco-free policy includes worksite and outdoor spaces, and will apply to all employees, visitors and contractors of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission (MSAAHCC).

“As an advocate for our thriving and livable community, we are addressing the root causes of social determinants of health,” says Terry Alford, Executive Director of the Michigan Street African Am. Heritage Corridor Commission. 

The initiative provides signage that prohibits tobacco use and vaping. It also emphasizes access to tobacco cessation supportive services in the heritage corridor.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, "African Americans usually smoke fewer cigarettes and start smoking cigarettes at an older age, they are more likely to die from smoking-related diseases than Whites."

REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) and The Tobacco-Free Coalition of Erie and Niagara Counties (TFCEN), both initiatives of Cicatelli Associates Inc. (CAI), have partnered with the MSAAHCC for this project.

Businesses or property managers can get involved with the initiative by improving their tobacco policies and installing new signage. 

If you're interested in receiving guidance or signage, contact Stan Martin, the project director of TFCEN and REACH project at CAI via email (SMartin@caiglobal.org) by June 30.

“Big tobacco has ‘systematically’ targeted the Black Community for far too long with its deadly products, which threatens our liberation and emancipation,” said Martin.

Credit: Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission
No Smoking or Vaping Sign for the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission

Secondhand smoke also impacts African American children and adults more than any other racial or ethnic group, as they are more likely to be exposed to it, according to the CDC.

“From where we live, work, shop, and pray, community education and access to services allow us to create a pathway for families to change their living environment and build a legacy for their families," added Martin. 

MSAAHCC is a neighborhood that sits central to local residents and visitors learning about Buffalo’s African American history. The neighborhood became a historic corridor in 2007.

“When we stand collectively together, put actions behind our words and provide a platform for our voices to be heard, we can make specific changes that will last a last time," Alford added.

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