Massachusetts Lawmakers Receive National Distinguished Advocacy Award for Championing Lifesaving Cancer Public Policy
BOSTON – Massachusetts Rep. Danielle Gregoire and Massachusetts Sen.
CONCORD – Cancer patients and survivors will mark the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) 44th annual Great American Smokeout, taking place on Thursday, by calling on lawmakers to protect the health of New Hampshire residents by passing strong tobacco control legislation. Only by tackling tobacco use through a comprehensive approach can we effectively overcome the country’s tobacco use epidemic and prevent the more than 480,000 deaths each year caused by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
The advocacy affiliate of ACS, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), supports evidence-based strategies proven to reduce tobacco use including comprehensive smoke-free laws, regular and significant tobacco excise tax increases and adequately funding evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
This effort to combat tobacco addiction comes at a critical moment, as Big Tobacco has now succeeded in hooking a new generation on tobacco products. E-cigarette use has reached epidemic levels among youth, with more than one in four high school students (27.5%) currently using e-cigarettes.
“While the Great American Smokeout looks to help people quit tobacco, it’s also critical that we prevent our youth from ever picking up this deadly addiction in the first place,” said Mike Rollo, director of government relations for ACS CAN in New Hampshire. “Raising the age of sale of all tobacco products to 21 can be an effective component of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control, and one that helps protect future generations from tobacco related death and disease.”
Yesterday, the New Hampshire Senate Commerce Committee voted in support (3-2) of legislation that would increase the statewide age of sale for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. It will be considered by the full legislature when they reconvene in January.
“Kids and tobacco just don’t mix. Research shows that if a person does not begin smoking at a young age, they are much less likely to ever smoke. In fact, 95 percent of adults who smoke started smoking before the age of 21 and nearly all of them started by age 26. That’s why it’s so important lawmakers stick to evidence-based solutions to help combat youth tobacco use,” said Rollo.
According to the 2014 Surgeon General’s report, while smoking has declined over the last 50 years since the first report linking smoking to devastating diseases like cancer, cigarettes have since become more deadly and the risk of disease and death caused by smoking has not declined. In fact, smoking is now linked to at least 15 types of cancers, including liver and colorectal cancers, and people who smoke today have a higher risk of lung cancer than people who smoked 50 years ago.
“The youth e-cigarette use epidemic should serve as a stark reminder that we have a long way to go when it comes to combatting Big Tobacco’s influence and protecting our communities from tobacco’s toll,” said Rollo.
“ACS CAN applauds Senators Soucy, Cavanaugh, and Morgan for their votes to protect New Hampshire kids from the tobacco industry’s continued targeting. The Senate Commerce Committee’s support of this legislation brings us one step closer to a long awaited and hard-earned public health victory for future generations. We look forward to working with the full legislature when they reconvene in January to move ahead this important piece of legislation.”
The use of tobacco products remains the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, killing more than 480,000 Americans and costing $289 billion in health care costs and lost productivity annually. In New Hampshire, tobacco is responsible for 1,900 deaths each year.
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.