Chris Hansen, ACS CAN President

ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse shares her views on the impact of advocacy on the cancer fight.


ACS CAN Releases Annual Report Evaluating How States are Measuring Up on Cancer Policies

August 3, 2017

How does your state measure up in the fight against cancer?  According to ACS CAN’S annual How Do You Measure Up? report – now in its 15th year – a majority of states are missing critical opportunities to pass and implement laws proven to prevent and save lives from cancer. 

In the 2017 How Do You Measure Up? report, ACS CAN grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia using a color-coded system to examine how well a state is doing when it comes to legislative activity to reduce cancer incidence and mortality in nine specific areas, including cancer prevention programs, access to health coverage and quality of life. “Green” means the state is doing well and has adopted evidence-based policies and best practices; “yellow” indicates moderate movement and that the state is making progress; and “red” shows where a state is falling short.  

The report finds that only California is measuring up or meeting benchmarks in seven of the nine legislative priority areas graded. Massachusetts had the second highest, meeting benchmarks in six areas. Delaware was the only state that is either doing well or making progress in every topic. Three states – Florida, Mississippi and South Carolina – did not meet benchmarks in any of the nine issues. 

The report highlights major gains states have made recently: 

•    In 2017, seven states passed legislation to increase access to and awareness of palliative care, bringing the new total to 20 states. Studies show that states can save more on medical costs when palliative care is provided earlier in a patient’s disease progression, and that palliative care is especially cost-efficient for patients with multiple diseases.
•    Sixteen states have a law in place prohibiting indoor tanning use for minors with no exemptions. In 2017, Oklahoma and West Virginia became the 15th and 16th states to pass laws prohibiting those under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning devices.
•    In 2017, 23 states met the benchmark by having a cigarette excise tax above the national average of $1.69 per pack. However, between 2016 and 2017, only one state implemented a significant cigarette tax increase – California by $2 per pack. 
•    Twenty-six states have now passed legislation making all indoor workplaces, restaurants and bars 100 percent smoke-free. This makes smoke-free laws the issue area with the second highest number of states meeting benchmark.
Your risk of cancer and your likelihood of surviving the disease should not depend on where you live. Unfortunately, research consistently shows that a person’s zip code is a better predictor of health than their genetic code. State lawmakers are in a unique position, with proven opportunities at their fingertips, to reduce the number of people in their states who hear the words, “you have cancer.” 

Each year, this report reminds us that when it comes to cancer, the decisions being made in our state capitols can be the difference between life and death. ACS CAN staff and volunteers are committed to working with all lawmakers because together, we can build stronger, healthier communities and ensure the American people have access to measures that prevent disease before it occurs, ultimately saving more lives from cancer.

To find out how your state measures up, visit

More Blogs About