Cancer Advocates Rally In Support of Breast Cancer Funding, Tobacco Tax

Nearly 100 Attend ACS CAN Day at the Capitol

February 23, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.– February 22, 2017 – Nearly 100 cancer patients, survivors and advocates from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) rallied at the Capitol today in support of $2.6 million in funding for the Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Program as well as to encourage Florida’s legislature to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes by at least $1. 
“When you consider the toll that cancer takes each year in Florida, it is a moral imperative to ensure we have policies in place that will allow everyone to have the disease detected and treated,” said Beth Lesnikoski, MD, a surgical oncologist from West Palm Beach. “We also have to do everything in our power to protect our youngsters from a future cancer diagnosis and there is no better way to make that happen than to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes by at least $1.”
The Mary Brogan program provides lifesaving cancer screenings to medically underserved women between the ages of 50 and 64 whose incomes are below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Since the program first received state money in fiscal year 2013, more than 132,500 women have received screenings and diagnostic services through the program.
According to the latest estimates from the American Cancer Society, Florida has moved up to 2nd in the United States in the number of new breast cancer cases per year as well as in the number of deaths. An estimated 18,170 Florida women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis and an estimated 2,910 are expected to die from the disease in 2017. 
ACS CAN also is endorsing House Bill 649, introduced by Rep. Barrington Russell, and Senate Bill 988, introduced by Senator Gary Farmer. Both Barrington and Farmer are from Broward County.  These bills would increase Florida’s current cigarette tax by $1 per pack.  The cigarette tax was last raised in 2009 and ranks 30th in the country.
A $1 per pack increase in the cigarette tax is projected to decrease youth smoking in the state by 11.2 percent and prevent 38,500 premature deaths due to smoking-related illnesses.  Additionally, it would generate $479.33 million in new annual revenue for the state and save $2.73 billion in long-term health care costs.
“There is no question that raising the cigarette tax by at least $1 would be a win-win for the state of Florida,” said Donna Lundy, Ph. D., Florida’s lead volunteer advocate for ACS CAN.  “It would be a health win that will reduce tobacco use and save lives as well as a financial win that will help the state’s budget.”
ACS CAN has been joined by the American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in supporting an increase of at least $1 per pack to the price of cigarettes.
Florida has the second highest cancer burden in the country, with 124,740 people projected to be diagnosed and 43,870 projected to die from the disease this year.  Additionally, there are more than 1.3 million Floridians living today who have survived a cancer diagnosis.

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 national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit


More Press Releases AboutTobacco Taxes, Breast and Cervical Cancer, Florida

Media Contacts

Ray Carson
Associate Director, Media Advocacy in the South Region