We are pleased to announce that longtime smokefree supporter Edward Branca, 68, a native of New York, was honored on June 18, 2019, at a special ceremony where he was presented with three awards for his work. The ceremony took place at the Spring Valley Rest Home, an adult assisted living facility in Nanuet, New York, where he resides.
Mr. Branca received the Advocate of the Year Award from Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR), our sister organization. This award will also be announced at the ANR Foundation’s awards ceremony at The National Conference on Tobacco or Health (NCTOH) where we recognize work in smokefree policy nationally. The New York State Office of Mental Health awarded Mr. Branca their Peer Warriors Award, and New York State Senator David Carlucci’s office was in attendance to recognize Mr. Branca for his work as well.
Mr. Branca began his advocacy work to protect the health of his fellow residents at Spring Valley Rest Home by working to remove a smoking room inside the facility that was causing residents to breathe toxic secondhand smoke.
“Mr. Branca has tenaciously and courageously advocated for smokefree legislation to help change the lives of all those who live in adult assisted care facilities in New York,” said Cynthia Hallett, MPH, President and CEO of ANR. “His passion and commitment to achieving smokefree air for all is an example for others to follow.”
ANRF provided technical assistance support and connected Mr. Branca with tobacco control professionals who assisted him locally. Not only was Mr. Branca able to get the smoking room closed at Spring Valley, he was the driving force behind a new law that was adopted by the Rockland County Legislature that requires all adult care facilities in the county to be smokefree. The Rockland County Smoke-Free Adult Care Facilities Act took effect on July 2, 2019.
“The decisions by Spring Valley Rest Home and the Rockland County Legislature to eliminate smoking rooms are part of the nationwide movement to create healthier, smokefree multi-unit residences,” said Liz Williams, Project and Policy Manager at ANR. “The number of people who can breathe easier at home is growing as a result of their actions, and the actions of communities, public housing agencies, and other housing providers that are adopting smokefree housing policies.”
Mr. Branca has not stopped his advocacy. He has been working to support a state bill to eliminate smoking in all adult care facilities in New York. Ed says, “Everyone deserves to breathe clean air.” State Senator David Carlucci, the sponsor of S2873, heard Ed’s powerful message as he advocated for expanding smokefree protections to adult care facilities throughout the state.