Idaho Falling Short in Enacting Cancer-Fighting Legislation

August 1, 2019

Idaho is falling short when it comes to implementing policies and passing legislation to prevent and reduce suffering and death from cancer. According to the latest edition of How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality, Idaho measured up to policy recommendations in only one of the eight evaluated issue areas. 

The report was released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), which is the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society. The 17th edition of the report highlights what we must do more to reduce suffering and death from cancer. 

“This year alone in Idaho, 8,390 people will be diagnosed with cancer and, sadly, 3,040 will die from the devastating disease in 2019,” said Luke Cavener, ACS CAN Managing Director. “We owe it to them—and to everyone at risk of developing this disease—to do everything in our power to prevent cancer and improve access to screenings and treatment. This report provides lawmakers a legislative path forward to improve cancer prevention efforts, curb tobacco use, prioritize the quality of life for patients and their families and increase access to critical health coverage.”

How Do You Measure Up? rates states in eight specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer: increased access to care through Medicaid, access to palliative care, balanced pain control policies, cigarette tax levels, smoke-free laws, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, cessation coverage under Medicaid and restricting indoor tanning devices for people under 18. 

This year’s report includes a special section examining efforts to stem youth tobacco product use by raising the legal age of sale for tobacco to 21. E-cigarettes have driven a dramatic 36% rise in overall youth tobacco product use over the last year—and in statehouses across the country, policymakers have prioritized efforts to keep tobacco products out of the hands of our kids, introducing 88 bills that raised the age of sale for tobacco products.  

Cavener is concerned about what the U.S. Surgeon is calling a youth e-cigarette epidemic. He sees the problem close to home in Idaho. Menthol, fruit and candy flavored tobacco products are a key part of the tobacco industry’s strategy to bait youth into becoming tomorrow’s addicts. These products are luring youth into a potential lifetime addiction to nicotine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data in February showing e-cigarette use among high schoolers jumped an alarming 78% in the last year.

Passing and implementing the policy recommendations in the report would not only save lives in Idaho, but also save millions in long-term health care costs and in some cases would even generate additional, much-needed revenue.

A color-coded system classifies how well a state is doing in each issue. Green shows that a state has adopted evidence-based policies and best practices; yellow indicates moderate movement toward the benchmark and red shows where states are falling short.  


How Idaho Measures Up:

  • Increased Access to Medicaid- GREEN
  • Access to Palliative Care- RED
  • Pain Policy- YELLOW
  • Cigarette Tax Rates- RED
  • Smoke-free Laws- YELLOW
  • Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding- RED
  • Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services- YELLOW
  • Indoor Tanning- RED


“By passing laws that prevent cancer and help patients get the care they need, our lawmakers can save lives and money in Idaho,” said Cavener. “We stand ready to work with our leaders to build a healthier and brighter future for Idahoans and eliminate death and suffering from cancer.”

Nationally, the report finds that increased access to health coverage through Medicaid is the most met benchmark, with 35 states, in addition to the District of Columbia, having broadened Medicaid eligibility to cover individuals earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($17,236 a year for an individual and $35,535 for a family of four). Smoke-free legislation is the second-most met benchmark with 27 states, in addition to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, considered “doing well.”


To view the complete report and details on Idaho’s ratings click here.