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Tobacco Control Champions and Students Recognize Local Store Owner

BUFFALO—The Great American Smoke Out is an annual intervention event that occurs every third Thursday of November. More than 34 million Americans still smoke cigarettes and smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. This event challenges people to stop smoking and helps people learn about the many tools they can use to help them quit and stay quit.

Tobacco control ambassadors also use this day to bring attention to the tobacco industry’s use of manipulative tobacco point of sale marketing that specifically targets young people and the disparate number of tobacco retailers doing business around schools that are in marginalized communities.

“Where you live, learn, work and play matters! Unfortunately, based on the science, 31% of New York’s high school students are open to using e-cigarettes, among those who have never used them before. This is an Epidemic and it’s 100% preventable,” said Stan Martin, Project Director at CAI, a mission-driven nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of health care and social services delivered to our most marginalized populations worldwide. “

Furthermore, “There are 80 active tobacco retailers that conduct business in the Ferry Street Corridor, which represent the largest concentration of tobacco retailers in the city,” said Terry Alford, Community Engagement Program Manager for the Tobacco-Free Coalition of Erie Niagara, another CAI initiative dedicated to decreasing tobacco use by adults and preventing our youth from ever starting by bringing together youth, community stakeholders and health experts dedicated to the reduction of illnesses and deaths attributed to tobacco use or exposure to secondhand smoke. “Of these 80 tobacco retailers, 57 are within a mile of early childhood centers, elementary and high schools. Unfortunately, our children that travel past these stores or patronize them are inundated with tobacco point of sale advertising every day, which continues to be the primary strategy of tobacco companies to get young people hooked on their deadly products.”

One local retailer, 35-year-old Rocky Mohamed, and owner of the Buffalo’s Golden Corner store located at 1715 Jefferson Ave. in Buffalo, long ago made the decision not to sell or promote tobacco products at his establishment. “My family has owned our store for 21 years. Our customers consist of mostly college students and young people from the neighborhood. I don’t want to sell anything to our customers I know will harm them, especially our youth,” said Mohamed.

To recognize Mohamed as a responsible and caring businessperson committed to the promotion of good health in his community, community stakeholders and students representing the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts high school assembled at the school to present Mohamed with a special certificate of recognition.

“I am astonished and grateful to be recognized,” said Mohamed. “My decision not to sell tobacco wasn’t for the recognition but to do the right thing.”

For more information about how you can support CAI’s initiatives, please contact Stan Martin at or Terry Alford at Visit our website to learn more about REACH Buffalo & Tobacco Free Coalition of Erie & Niagara Counties.