How Does Your State Measure Up on Policies to Fight Cancer?

Unfortunately, for most of you the answer to the question above is “not well.” According to a new edition of the ACS CAN report How Do You Measure Up? released today, many state legislatures are missing opportunities to enact laws and policies that could not only generate new revenue and long-term health savings, but also save lives.

This year’s report ranked where states stand on nine issues that play a critical role in reducing cancer incidence and death, including:

  • Smoke-free laws
  • Tobacco taxes
  • Tobacco prevention and cessation funding
  • Indoor tanning bed restrictions for minors
  • Physical education time requirements
  • Breast & cervical cancer early detection program funding
  • Pain policies
  • Access to palliative care
  • Medicaid expansion

A color-coded system is used to identify how well a state is doing. Green represents the benchmark position, showing that a state has adopted evidence-based policies and best practices. Yellow indicates moderate movement toward the benchmark. Red shows where states are falling short. This year, no state received greens in seven or more of the 10 legislative priority areas and 38 states have reached benchmarks in only three or fewer.

In most cases, small upfront investments by a state can save millions of dollars in health care costs in the long run. In fact, we know we could prevent roughly half of all cancer deaths in the United States if everyone in America were to stop using tobacco, get screened for cancer, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Some of the ways states can help are:

  • Increasing tobacco taxes: No state comes close to matching the health and economic costs attributed to smoking, which are estimated at $10.47 per pack.
  • Enacting smoke-free laws: No state passed comprehensive smoke-free legislation in the recent legislative session.
  • Supporting the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program: Nearly half of all states have reduced state funding for their NBCCEDP, meaning fewer eligible women across the United States have access to lifesaving screenings.
  • Restricting minors from using indoor tanning beds: Only five states – Texas, Illinois, Nevada, California and Vermont – have enacted comprehensive laws restricting tanning for minors under 18.
  • Increasing access to palliative care services: If palliative care teams were fully integrated into the nation’s hospitals, total savings could exceed $6 billion per year.

Through our network of cancer survivors and caregivers, volunteers and staff, ACS CAN is working with lawmakers in every state to help pass laws like these that can save lives from cancer. Our hope is next year we’ll be able to share that more states are measuring up in the fight against cancer.

HDYMU 2013 Cover

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2 Comments
  • Posted by Todd Allen  on January 18, 2014 at 9:30 am

    It is very upsetting to live in a state that claims to be “Smoke-FREE”. Iowa passed the Smokefree Air Act over 5-years ago, yet there is ZERO enforcement. I still get smoke in my face every time I visit the University of Iowa Hospital, University of Iowa College of Dentistry, the library in Burlington, IA . . . . There are still ashtrays at every entrance to our county courthouse -sitting right next to the signs declaring it a “Smoke-Free” area. Over 300-complaints hae been issued to the Iowa Department of Public Health. This did absolutely nothing since they can’t enforce laws. Even though the Iowa Smokefree Air Act gives enforcement to ALL law enforcement departments in the state, none of them take action in my city. Passing the Iowa Smokefree Air Act was a waste of tax-dollars. STOP GIVING IOWA CREDIT FOR BEING A SMOKE FREE STATE. Making that statement is a LIE.

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