Data Released Showing Link between Tobacco Use & Cancer Deaths in Erie County, NY

Local Health & Community Leaders React & Call for State Response

March 10, 2023

BUFFALO, NY—MARCH 8, 2023— Utilizing data from the New York State Cancer Registry, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) released data showing the devastating impact that cancers linked to tobacco have on New Yorkers, specifically those living in Erie County:

  • Between 2015-2019, 46,417 people on average each year in New York State were diagnosed with and 13,638 people died from a cancer linked to tobacco use.
  • Between 2015-2019, 2,624 people on average each year in Erie County were diagnosed with and 892 people died from a cancer linked to tobacco use.

Among those who use tobacco, lung cancer is the leading cancer diagnosis with over 80% of lung cancer deaths in the U.S linked to cigarette smoking. That said, tobacco use causes at least 12 types of cancer. When combined, cancers linked to tobacco use make up 40% of all cancer diagnoses, and cigarette smoking causes 3 in 10 of all cancer deaths. 

There are widespread disparities in incidence among the 12 cancers linked to tobacco use. For example, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Black men and the second-leading cause in Black women.

“It is time for state leaders to once and for all get serious about lowering tobacco use rates and, with it, cancer incidence and deaths,” said Michael Davoli, Senior Government Relations Director of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “If we are to end the deadly impact that tobacco has on our kids and our communities, then we must adopt a comprehensive strategy that starts with removing flavored products, like menthol cigarettes, from the tobacco industry toolbox.”

Dr. Andrew Hyland, Chair of Health Behavior and head of tobacco control programs at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, said, “Every day we see patients coming through the doors of Roswell Park suffering and dying from preventable diseases caused by cigarettes. We can save the lives of thousands of New Yorkers and stop the cycle of addiction to tobacco, with the proposal to end the sale of all flavored products—including menthol cigarettes.”

“New York has the opportunity to address a definitive health equity issue. Tobacco-related cancer mortality is higher among Black people than white people because of historically higher smoking prevalence, which is not an accident. For decades, tobacco companies have disproportionately marketed tobacco products, namely menthol cigarettes, to Black communities. We can no longer ignore the industry’s reprehensible practices,” said Senior Pastor of Lincoln UMC and Chair of Buffalo Center for Health Equity, Pastor George Nicholas.  

Despite progress and additional policy efforts, approximately 2,361,000 New Yorkers still use tobacco, and tobacco companies are still hooking kids on their deadly product and making a large profit off New Yorkers. In response, ACS CAN is urging state leaders to adopt a three-part strategy to lower tobacco use rates that includes ending the sale of menthol cigarettes and all flavored tobacco, increasing the cigarette tax by at least $1 per pack and dedicating a significant portion of the additional tax revenue toward increasing the budget for the New York State Tobacco Control Program. 



The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that improves the lives of people with cancer and their families. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and advanced proven tobacco control measures. We’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers to end cancer as we know it, for everyone. Join the fight by visiting

Media Contacts

Casey O'Neill
Senior Regional Media Advocacy Manager