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Canter Center Pilot Project

The Cancer Center Pilot Project is part of a larger, multi-investigator and stakeholder initiative aimed at reducing the tobacco rate in Cleveland, which in turn will help to reduce cancer risk across the city.  

Why is this important to our community?

Across the city of Cleveland where the median income is $26,179, adult tobacco use was 38.6% in 2015, which is more than twice the national rate of 17.5%. Cleveland provides a natural laboratory within which to better understand the barriers to smoking cessation among low-income individuals and to develop and test intervention strategies that are transportable and replicable in other contexts, ultimately contributing to a reduction in tobacco use nationally. Identifying approaches to best intervene with and to support low-income smokers as they seek to quit smoking is a critical research priority.

Team Members & Collaborators


  • Erika Trapl- Principal Investigator
  • Elaine Borawski - Principal Investigator
  • Sarah Koopman Gonzalez - Co- Investigator
  • Jin Kim-Mozeleski - Research Collaborator
  • Catherine Osborn - Research Coordinator
  • Casey Albitz - Graduate Research Assistant
  • Elizabeth Frost - Research Coordinator

Collaborators & Partners

  • Various food pantries within Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland
  • Northeast Ohio Neighborhood (NEON) Clinic

Advisory Board

  • The Breathe Free Committee was established by Healthy Cleveland, an initiative of the Cleveland Department of Public Health. The committee consists of community partners from across Cleveland including Metro Health, University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Department of Public Health, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Tobacco Free Kids, and others. 

Communities of Focus

Neighborhoods throughout Cleveland, OH. 

Project Activities

The Cancer Center Pilot Project consists of two different projects. Project 1 is known as the CWRU Tobacco Interview Study and Project 2 is referred to as the 2-1-1 Smoking Cessation Study. 

  • Project 1: CWRU Tobacco Interview Study
    • Qualitative interviews are being conducted with current smokers and former smokers who have quit in the past three years. We are actively recruiting individuals who fit into either of these categories.  
  • Project 2:  2-11 Smoking Cessation Study
    • Part 1- Qualitative interviews are currently being conducted with individuals who have called 2-1-1 United Way of Greater Cleveland for information pertaining to smoking cessation services. 
    • Part 2- Interviews have already been conducted with Call Navigation Specialists who work for 2-1-1 United Way of Greater Cleveland answering phone calls and providing referrals to individuals looking for smoking cessation services. 
    • Part 3- Audits will be done to examine recorded phone calls to 2-1-1 where an individual had called looking for tobacco cessation services. 

Specific Aims

  • Project 1: CWRU Tobacco Interview Study
    • Aim 1- To establish a steering committee
    • Aim 2- To implement an ethnographic study of low income current and former smokers
    • Aim 3- To develop a comprehensive plan to curb tobacco use in Cleveland
  • Project 2: 2-1-1 Smoking Cessation Study
    • Aim 1- To conduct qualitative interviews with 2-1-1 callers
    • Aim 2- To conduct qualitative interviews with 2-1-1 Call Navigation Specialists
    • Aim 3- To perform audits of 2-1-1 smoking cessation calls


The Cancer Center Pilot Project grant began in August 2019 and will end on July 2020


Findings from the Cancer Center Pilot Project will be disseminated through the Breathe Free Committee and other community partners when the study is concluded.

What's Next?

We will continue recruiting for both projects, doing data analysis and disseminating findings. We hope this project will provide data on how best to address the high rate of tobacco use in Cleveland. It is a pilot project meaning that future interventions will be formed from the findings.


 For more information, please contact Elizabeth Frost. 


These projects are funded through the Case Comprehnsive Cancer Center.