To the Editor:
Big Tobacco has been up to some unsavory practices. In Minnesota, they have been targeting our youth with flavored tobacco products.
Victory in the fight against cancer requires bold new public policies that promote cancer prevention, early detection of cancer, and expand access to quality, affordable health care. Lawmakers make many decisions that impact the lives of South Carolinians touched by cancer and their leadership is vital to defeating this disease. In 2019, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) worked with the South Carolina General Assembly in support of the following priorities:
Reducing the Toll of Tobacco
· Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Funding: ACS CAN continues to advocate and monitor for threats to funding for evidence-based, statewide tobacco use prevention and cessation programs. $5 million remains allocated to the state Department of Health and Environmental Services in the state budget for tobacco prevention and cessation. An additional $5 million also continues to be allocated to the Medical University of South Carolina, Hollings Cancer Center for tobacco research. This $10 million in funding is revenue generated from tobacco taxes.
· Tobacco Taxes: ACS CAN worked to increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack with a parallel increase in the tax on other tobacco products. Increasing the price of cigarettes and all other tobacco products through regular and significant tobacco tax increases helps to prevent children from starting to use tobacco and helps adults to quit. The tobacco tax in South Carolina remains at 57 cents per pack and has not been increased since 2010. This year a bill was introduced in the House but unfortunately did not receive a hearing. We will continue to push for this bipartisan bill to have a hearing in 2020.
· Tobacco 21: A Tobacco 21 bill was introduced this year in South Carolina but was not supported by ACS CAN because of the penalties the bill would bestow on youth. The bill is also unconstitutional under South Carolina age of majority law. ACS CAN will continue to monitor this legislation and work with lawmakers to amend the current bill and protect youth from tobacco.
· Tobacco Preemption: ACS CAN worked to protect the rights of local municipalities to regulate flavors, ingredients, and retail licenses of tobacco products. Local governments are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of the people in their communities. They should be able to pass laws that are proven to promote good health, well-being, and equity. A tobacco preemption bill that was introduced in 2019 passed the House but failed to pass the Senate.
Cancer Prevention and Early Detection
· Breast and Cervical Cancer: ACS CAN advocated to maintain funding of $1 million for The Best Chance Network, the state breast and cervical cancer screening and early detection program for low-income uninsured and underinsured women administered by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
· Colorectal Cancer: ACS CAN worked to maintain $1 million in funding for colorectal cancer screening, treatment, and patient navigation programs. The program is housed at the University of South Carolina Center for Colon Cancer Prevention Network and provides screening to patients throughout the state who are uninsured.
Quality of Life
· Palliative Care: ACS CAN successfully advocated for the Quality of Life and Palliative Care Task Force that was created in 2018 through legislation. The task force has met throughout the session and will continue to meet for the remainder of 2019. The task force is making progress on recommendations for regulation and policy change that would impact the quality of life of patients with chronic illnesses in South Carolina.
· Protecting Access to Pain Medication for Cancer Patients: ACS CAN monitored legislative proposals regarding the prescribing of opioid pain medications. We advocated for a balanced approach that promotes safe prescribing and dispensing of pain management medication that does not interfere with access to these medicines for the cancer patients and survivors who need them.
Skin Cancer Prevention
· Indoor Tanning Devices: ACS CAN advocated for a state law to prohibit the use of indoor tanning devices by those under the age of 18, ensure all consumers are properly informed of their risk prior to use, and require all indoor tanning devices to be properly regulated with effective enforcement provisions in place. The Skin Cancer Prevention Act passed out of the House this year and remains in the Senate awaiting a subcommittee hearing. There was much support for this bill and efforts will continue over the Summer and Fall to educate members in the Senate on the importance of this legislation to protect our youth in South Carolina.
For more information, contact: Beth Johnson, South Carolina Government Relations Director ACS CAN [email protected] / 843-858-2310
ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network • www.fightcancer.org/states/south-carolina