Alaska Cancer Advocates Host Virtual Cancer Action Day to Prioritize Tobacco Control and Cancer Prevention Efforts
ANCHORAGE, Alaska—Cancer patients, survivors and volunteers met virtually with state lawmakers this week for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s Cancer Action Day to make fighting cancer a priority.
"February is Cancer Prevention Month so it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about how to reduce death and suffering from cancer, particularly through reducing tobacco use. Smoking is linked at least 13 types of cancer and it also causes nearly one-third of Alaska’s cancer deaths," said Emily Nenon, Alaska government relations for ACS CAN. "While we couldn’t meet in person this year, our advocates let lawmakers know that if we are going to eliminate cancer as a major health problem in Alaska, the goal must be top of mind for our legislature."
Specifically, the group urged lawmakers to support comprehensive tobacco prevention efforts, including work to combat the alarming increase in youth tobacco use, largely driven by e-cigarettes. The comprehensive and sustained effort of the Alaska Tobacco Prevention and Control Program has resulted in a 29% drop in adult smoking rates since 1996 and a 79% drop in youth smoking since 1995. While high school cigarette smoking fell from 37% in 1995 down to 7.5% in 2019, youth e-cigarette use has increased to 26% in 2019.
More work still needs to be done. Smoking still costs our state $575 million in annual health care costs plus an additional $261 million in annual lost productivity.
"At this critical time, we must do everything to keep our communities healthy and safe. That includes building strong public health policies including investing in comprehensive tobacco control programs," said Nenon. "At a time when respiratory health is at the forefront as we continue working to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control, Alaska’s lawmakers should prioritize programs to help adults quit using tobacco and prevent young people from starting this lifetime addiction," Nenon added.
This year, roughly 3,190 Alaskans will be diagnosed with cancer and 940 people will die from the devastating disease. To learn more or get involved with our advocacy efforts, visit www.fightcancer.org/alaska.
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making Cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society's nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without Cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.