Buffalo Bills Honored with Health Advocate Award for Smoke-Free Policy

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

BUFFALO, NY – The Buffalo Bills organization today received the Leonard Pleasant/New Voice Club Tobacco-Free Advocate of the Year Award for creating a smoke-free Ralph Wilson Stadium. The award was presented by the Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society.                 

The annual award recognizes an organization or individual for exceptional and innovative contributions that have a positive and effective impact on tobacco control initiatives.

The Bills recently announced changes to their Fan Behavior policy which included a ban on smoking throughout at their facility.

“We applaud the Buffalo Bills administration for their strong leadership in the fight against tobacco use, the number one cause of preventable death in the United States,” said Andrew Hyland, PhD, Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.  “The Buffalo Bills have taken a significant step to create a healthier, more family-friendly environment that protects everyone’s right to breathe clean, smoke-free air.”

“The Buffalo Bills organization is honored to receive the Leonard Pleasant/New Voice Club Tobacco-Free Advocate of the Year Award today and share it with the majority of our fans who attend games at Ralph Wilson Stadium and have asked us to make our facility smoke free. We want to thank the Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society for this award as well as the support we have received from Erie County Executive Chris Collins, the Town of Orchard Park, Legacy and our business partner, BlueCross and BlueShield of WNY. Our goal is to create a healthier environment at our facility for all of our fans and today’s award serves as recognition of that effort,” said Bills CEO Russ Brandon.

The Buffalo Bills join a growing number of major league sports facilities that have adopted smoke-free policies. In the past, tobacco companies used sports stadiums to market their addictive products. Today, the Buffalo Bills are demonstrating that providing a smoke-free environment creates a healthy and safe experience for their fans to enjoy.

“This announcement represents a partnership between Erie County, the Buffalo Bills, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the entire community of Bills fans committed to maintaining a healthy atmosphere for the nearly one million people that will watch, work or play at Ralph Wilson Stadium this football season, ” said Erie County Executive Chris Collins. “This commitment to making Ralph Wilson Stadium 100% smoke free takes us one step closer to achieving our mission in Erie County of making this a world-class community where people want to live, businesses want to locate and tourists want to visit.”

“We congratulate the Buffalo Bills for joining the growing number of major league sports facilities that have adopted smoke-free policies, giving fans who attend games in the fabled Ralph Wilson Stadium the chance to enjoy all the on-field action, without suffering from negative off-field health effects,” said David Dobbins, Chief Operating Officer of Legacy, the national public health foundation that is partnering with the Buffalo Bills to bring quit smoking information to Bills fans. “We pilot-tested our national quit smoking campaign – BecomeAnEx.org – in Buffalo in 2006-2007, and we are very excited to return in hopes of helping more Western New York smokers quit.”

“BlueCross BlueShield applauds the entire Buffalo Bills organization on its decision to designate Ralph Wilson Stadium as a smoke-free facility,” Dr. Raghu Ram, senior medical director, health care services, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, said.  “Our organizations share a long history of working together to improve the well-being of our community, and this initiative will contribute to bettering the health of the dedicated Buffalo sports fans.”

“Eliminating toxic second-hand smoke from public places continues to be a trend across New York State. Actions like this not only prevent exposure to a known cancer-causing agent, they help teach children that smoking isn’t a socially acceptable behavior anymore. The result is that policies, like the one the Bills have announced, can lead to fewer kids being lured into a life-long tobacco addiction. We couldn’t be prouder of our home team,” said Gretchen Leffler, Regional Vice President for the American Cancer Society.

The Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition is funded by the New York State Tobacco Control Program.  The goal is to educate community leaders and the public about the dangers and social costs of tobacco use, to provide information to local stakeholders about the adoption of policies that restrict the tobacco industry’s presence in our communities, and to de-normalize tobacco use and eliminate secondhand smoke. For more information, visit www.tobaccofreewny.com or www.tobaccofreenys.org.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org