New Report Details State Legislative Progress on Issues Key to Saving Lives from Cancer
Madison, Wis.—Wisconsin is getting mixed reviews for its legislative efforts to combat cancer, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). How Do You Measure up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality rates states using a color coded system and gives Wisconsin green ratings in three of seven benchmarks: tobacco taxes, smoke-free air laws and colorectal cancer screening.
“Wisconsin has taken some important steps toward reducing its tobacco-related cancer burden in recent years, including the highly successful statewide smoke-free air law,” said Allison Miller, Wisconsin Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society. “We’re proud of this progress but we’re also concerned that some ground could be lost due to ongoing cuts to the state’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.”
Wisconsin’s only red ranking in the report was for tobacco prevention funding. State lawmakers cut the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program by 22 percent in the last budget and 55 percent the budget before. The program, which helps adults quit smoking and educates kids about the dangers of starting, is slated to receive just $5.3 million annually—less than what traditional tobacco states such as North Carolina, Virginia and Mississippi spend on similar efforts. Smoking-related health care costs in Wisconsin tally nearly $3 billion and smoking claims more than 7,000 lives each year.
The report also offers a blueprint for effective legislation on matters such as obesity, nutrition and physical activity; and quality of life.
“As advocates, we have the responsibility to educate the public on how to prevent and treat cancer, but we cannot do it unless state and local policymakers take action to provide funding and access to programs and services that are proven to work,” said Miller. “Prevention and early detection are really the most effective ways to save lives and potentially millions of dollars in health care costs.”
How Wisconsin Measures Up:
Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Funding: Yellow
Colorectal Screening Coverage Laws: Green
Smoke-free Laws: Green
Tobacco Prevention Funding: Red
Tobacco Taxes: Green
State Tanning Bed Bans for Minors: Yellow
Access to Palliative Care: Yellow
In a year consumed by budget and legislative challenges, many state legislatures missed opportunities to enact laws and policies that could save money, generate revenue and save lives. In the past 10 years, only three states – California, Missouri and North Dakota – have not raised their cigarette tax, and 20 states and the District of Columbia still have taxes less than $1 per pack. No state comes close to matching health and economic costs attributed to smoking, which are estimated at $10.47 per pack.
No states passed comprehensive smoke-free legislation in the recent legislative session; however, a number of cities and counties passed laws making them 100 percent smoke-free. Currently, 23 states, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia have comprehensive smoke-free laws in place. Keeping all workplaces, restaurants and bars in a state 100 percent smoke-free is the best way to protect all residents from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Passage of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010 initiated the formation of health benefit exchanges in many states. Fourteen states already have established exchanges through legislation or executive order. These serve as the central marketplace where consumers compare and buy health insurance plans in the individual and small group markets.
Unfortunately, many states are slashing funds to the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which provides low-income and uninsured women with access to life-saving mammograms and Pap tests. Decreased funding means fewer eligible women across the country have access to lifesaving screenings.
In 2012, more than 1.6 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer and more than 577,000 people will die from the disease. In Wisconsin this year, 31,920 people will be diagnosed with cancer and 11,240 will die of the disease.
For state-by-state details or a copy of the complete report, please visit www.acscan.org.
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