The Center of Excellence for Health Systems Improvement (COE for HSI) Prepares for August 1st Smoke-Free Public Housing Launch

New York, NY - Residents living in federally-funded public housing need our support now more than ever to comply with a new U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ruling. On August 1, 2018, HUD will require that all local public housing authorities implement a smoke-free policy. Although the HUD ruling does not require residents to be non-smokers, it does prohibit the use of combustible tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, and cigarillos) anywhere inside or within 25 feet of HUD-funded buildings.  

 The plan significantly impacts all NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) tenants, as well as other local housing authorities statewide including those in Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers. According to the NYCHA 2017 Fact Sheet, NYCHA is the largest public housing authority in North America with 176,066 public housing apartments in 2,462 buildings in 326 developments throughout the five boroughs.  590,216 New Yorkers are served by NYCHA housing.

 Maintaining safe and affordable housing is an important social determinant of health, and the loss of one’s housing leads to increased risk of health problems. To prevent residents of Public Housing who are smokers from potentially losing their housing, the Center of Excellence for Health Systems Improvement for Tobacco-Free NY (COE for HSI) is working alongside ten Regional Health Systems Improvement Grantees throughout NYS to make sure healthcare providers, who are in a position to screen and arrange for treatment of tobacco use, are aware of the ruling. This includes continuing to work with healthcare providers to ensure that they have systems in place to screen patients and to help them quit. In addition, it is important that current smokers living in HUD housing know that help is available and that their healthcare providers can assist them in quitting, and that the assistance is covered by Medicaid and most private insurers.

In addition to their current work as the COE for HSI, CAI served as the tobacco control training center for New York State for ten years —delivering customized trainings to Regional Grantees of the New York State Bureau of Tobacco Control. In a state where more than 28,000 adults die every year due to smoking, CAI trainings have helped New York achieve its goal of reducing the prevalence of cigarette use among adults and adolescents.

 For more information about the HUD Housing ruling, or if you are a healthcare provider seeking support on how to better assist public housing residents with this change, please contact the COE for HSI Project Director at

HOPE Buffalo Hosts Youth & Community Award Ceremony

Every Child Is One Caring Adult Away From Being A Success Story

ERIE COUNTY, NY—Despite national cuts to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Teen Pregnancy Prevention funding, HOPE Buffalo continues to demonstrate its firm commitment to teen pregnancy prevention.  HOPE Buffalo, a partnership between CAI and the Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) is a youth and community-led collaborative of over 40 diverse stakeholders: teens, adults, health care providers, educators, faith-based and community leaders. This collaboration works together to promote  equitable access to high-quality and comprehensive sexuality education and reproductive health services.

On March 22nd, 2018, HOPE Buffalo will host their Annual Awards Ceremony to recognize youth, key community stakeholders and partners, health care providers, and representatives from the Buffalo Public School District and the Buffalo School Board of Education for their efforts in promoting adolescent health and wellness for teens in nine selected zip code areas in Buffalo (14201, 14204, 14206, 14207, 14208, 14209, 14211, 14213 & 14215). 


HOPE Buffalo’s primary objective is to reduce teen pregnancy in Buffalo by 30% over a five-year period among females ages 15 to19.  If current trends continue, we estimate that by 2020 the teen pregnancy rate could be as low as 26.1 (26.1 pregnancies for every 1,000 adolescent females ages 15-19) in our nine targeted areas.  However, this trend is threatened due to a loss in funding, and teen pregnancy rates could easily rise again,” said Stan Martin, Director of HOPE Buffalo. “Today is a time for us to recognize our achievements, address the ongoing disparities and highlight the opportunities that exist to sustain our work for generations to come.”  

“The efforts of ECDOH and HOPE Buffalo have not only led to reducing teen pregnancy rates, these efforts also foster a sense of purpose and hope for the future in our youth,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, Commissioner of Health, ECDOH.  

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For More Information:

Erie County Department of Health: Teen Wellness
HOPE Buffalo
PATCH Program
OAH Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

The HOPE Buffalo project is supported through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health to the Erie County Department of Health and CAI (Cicatelli Associates Inc.).

This publication was made possible by Grant number 5 TP1AH000106-02-00 from the HHS Office of Adolescent Health. Contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Department of Health and Human Services or the Office of Adolescent Health. 

On Great American Smokeout Day (Nov. 16), the Center of Excellence for Health Systems Improvement at CAI Says Health Care Providers Are Key to Success in Quitting

Also in late November, Tobacco Companies Will Finally Run TV, Newspapers Ads Taking Full Responsibility of Their Lethal Products  

New York, N.Y. - Today, in observance of the Great American Smokeout, the Center of Excellence for Health Systems Improvement (COE for HSI) urges smokers throughout New York State to plan to quit smoking by contacting their health care providers, who will provide them the greatest chance for success in quitting. COE for HSI works with medical and behavioral health systems throughout New York State to establish system wide policies to screen for and treat tobacco dependence.  

“The Great American Smokeout Campaign supports our efforts to improve health systems by fully integrating tobacco screening and treatment into standard care delivery at healthcare organizations statewide,” stated COE for HSI Project Director, Michael Graziano. “We continue to believe that health care providers are one of the greatest supports to those who want to quit smoking.”

In addition to their current work as the COE for HSI, CAI served as the tobacco control training center for New York State for ten years —delivering customized trainings to Regional Grantees of the New York State Bureau of Tobacco Control. In a state where more than 28,000 adults die every year due to smoking, CAI trainings have helped New York achieve its goal of reducing the prevalence of cigarette use among adults and adolescents.

An added reason to celebrate the Great American Smokeout is that it takes place the same month as tobacco companies gear up to launch a court mandated ad campaign finally telling the truth about their deadly and addictive products after lying to the American public for decades about the dangers of smoking. The first ads will appear in dozens of major newspapers around the nation on Sunday, November 26 and the first television ads will appear a week later.

For more than 11 years, the tobacco companies have sought to weaken and delay the corrective ad campaign ordered by the court. These ads contain statements about the health dangers of smoking that stem from a landmark lawsuit filed by the U.S Justice Department in 1999 and a landmark judgment issued in 2006 by U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler. Judge Kessler found the tobacco companies guilty of civil racketeering laws and lying about the negative health effects of smoking and their marketing to children.


For more information on CAI’s products and services, please contact Michael Graziano, Project Director for Health Systems Improvement (HSI) at or (212) 594-7741 X 226.


CDC funds new initiative to address youth sexually transmitted disease rate disparities in Erie County

Erie County, NY— In the face of national cuts to adolescent health funding, HOPE Buffalo, one of the Erie County Department of Health’s (ECDOH) and CAI’s teen pregnancy prevention projects, has been successful in securing a federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for almost $1 million over three years for the Community Approaches to Reducing STDs (CARS) initiative. This initiative aims to implement evidence-based strategies to reduce disparities in STD rates among African American and LGBTQI adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24.

Effective September 30, 2017, the CARS team began working as part of HOPE Buffalo’s Community Action Team (CAT) to engage community-members, stakeholders, and youth.  Adapting HOPE Buffalo’s community mobilization model, community members, youth and stakeholders will work together to identify what is contributing to disparities in rates of STDs as well as take part in developing and implementing solutions. CAI will serve as the backbone organization in partnership with ECDOH to resource and coordinate all initiative activities. 

This effort will include embedding a Social Determinants of Health Fellow within ECDOH to work closely with Health Commissioner, Gale Burstein MD, MPH and her team.

“This award would not have been possible without the support of the HOPE Buffalo community,” said Stan Martin, Project Director of HOPE Buffalo. “As a result, we are able to address the social determinants of health and reduce health disparities amongst those with some of the greatest needs.” 

HOPE Buffalo’s community partners, among other supportive CAT members to date include:

  • ECDSS-Adoption and Family Services
  • Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers
  • Buffalo Public School District
  • Buffalo Police Athletic League, Inc.
  • City of Buffalo, Department of Community Services and Recreation
  • Evergreen Health
  • Greater Buffalo United Ministries
  • Kaleida School Based Health Center
  • Kaleida Health
  • Millennium Collaborative Care
  • Neuwater Associates LLC
  • Ss Columba-Brigid
  • United Way of Buffalo and Erie County

For more information or if you would like to join the CARS effort, send an e-mail message to  You can also visit the HOPE Buffalo website at to take the pledge for healthy teens.

HOPE Buffalo Hosts Press Conference

Federal Funding Cuts To Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Hits Home

Erie County, NY - On August 17, 2017, HOPE Buffalo hosted a press conference to discuss the current administration's decision to cut funding to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) by two years.
HOPE Buffalo, a project of CAI, in partnership with the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH), was initially awarded a $10 million grant over five years (2015-2020), but is now only guaranteed funding until June of 2018. Both HOPE Buffalo and the ECDOH are committed to raising healthy children and sustaining the youth and community led collaboration beyond the 2018 date. 
The strategies they seek to implement are replicating the Evidence Based Interventions (EBIs)—proven to reduce teen pregnancy—and continue utilizing science and data to reach well-informed decisions about comprehensive adolescent health and wellness. The goal remains to reduce teen pregnancy by 30% by 2020 in nine selected Buffalo City zip codes with the highest teen pregnancy rates and will require more support from the community, including the public and private sector.  
Key topics that were addressed included: 

  • What is HOPE Buffalo?
  • What is the Plan?
  • The Youth Voice
  • Next Steps to Move Forward 

“The driving force behind our work is the data,” said HOPE Buffalo’s Project Director, Stan Martin in the last Community Action Team (CAT) meeting.
“We have talked about sustainability since day one,” he said. “We put action behind our words where schools, communities and healthcare providers are all involved. We want to prepare ourselves for beyond 2018 and 2020.” 

To learn more about HOPE Buffalo, please click here.