Today, with immeasurable sadness, we mourn the loss of a true trailblazer and pioneer of tobacco control and healthier living, Phil Haberstro. Team members past and present gathered virtually to share their reflections:
“Phil is one of those unsung heroes of the early, formative efforts that shaped how we do tobacco control today.”
– Andy Hyland, PhD, Chair of Health Behavior and head of the tobacco control program at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
“Phil was carrying the ‘wellness’ message long before it became fashionable, and now, as most health leaders say, essential. We were planning a project with him just two days ago. True to form, Phil found the joy in daily life to the very end and parted from us not only following his own passion, but guiding others to do the same.”
-Anthony Billoni, Director, Tobacco-Free Western New York
“Phil was one in a million. He guided countless wellness walks and worked endlessly to create a healthier Western New York community. When you drive past a ‘Buffalo An All America City’ designation on the I-90, think of Phil. That was much of his work and vision.
We worked together on the Clean Indoor Air Act, one of the first policies in the state, as well as the nation. Phil’s passing is not just a loss for his family and friends, but to our entire community. We will miss Phil Haberstro dearly, but are grateful that his impact will be everlasting.”
-Jenna Brinkworth, Director of Community Engagement, Tobacco-Free Roswell Park
“Phil was one of the most passionate boosters of Buffalo and the Western New York region I encountered….and that says a lot since there are lots of passionate folks.
Phil exemplified what is meant by reference to Buffalo being the City of good neighbors. He was a strong supporter of our efforts to adopt clean indoor air laws (highly controversial at the time), limit cigarette marketing and educate the public about the dangers of smoking.
Sadly writing this note on the date of the Great American Smokeout, reminds me that Phil was instrumental in helping us set up and promote some memorable GASO events. I remember this one done on a snowy, windy November day in front of City Hall with Scottie Norwood, the infamous Buffalo Bills kicker, who was asked to kick a football, wrapped up to resemble a giant pack of cigarettes, through fire engine uprights to support the slogan – ‘Kicking the butts out of Buffalo.’ It took the kicker four tries to get the giant pack of cigarettes through the uprights for the photo op and news crews. Wide right three times before we got the picture. We sure had fun trying to make Buffalo a safer and healthier place for our neighbors. Rest in peace, Phil.”
K. Michael Cummings, PhD, MPH, Former head of the tobacco control program at Roswell Park
Phil enjoyed what he did, was passionate about making Buffalo a better place to live, and truly was a good neighbor. We promise to keep his legacy going.