Cancer Patients, Survivors Travel to Juneau to Urge Legislators to Push Harder Against the Tobacco Industry & Expand Telehealth Access

Cancer Action Day Advocates Asks Lawmakers To Prioritize Health of Alaskans

February 20, 2024

JUNEAU, Alaska – February 20, 2024 – Cancer patients, survivors and their families and caregivers from throughout Alaska gathered Tuesday at the Capitol building to ask legislators to prioritize public health over the profit margin of the Tobacco Industry. 

The visit was part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s annual Cancer Action Day, an event that brought more than a dozen Alaskans affected by cancer together to call on the Legislature to make cancer a priority, keep tobacco’s deadly products out of the hands of Alaska’s kids, and ensure access to coordinated healthcare.

 “As a state, we’ve made progress in tackling the issues causing suffering and death from cancer, but there is more we need to do to protect and support our friends and families,” said Emily Nenon, ACS CAN Alaska Government Relations Director.

She continued: “The Tobacco Industry is working to addict a new generation of customers and the legislature hasn’t raised tobacco taxes in 20 years. E-cigarettes weren’t even on the US market 20 years ago. A comprehensive approach to tobacco prevention is critical to regaining ground, especially in youth prevention. 

“We also have structural barriers to accessing healthcare. Alaskans came together and developed a unique approach to expanding telehealth in the last legislature. We can now build on that success to better support Alaskans with complex medical needs.”

This year, 3,710 Alaskans will be diagnosed with cancer and an estimated 1,220 will die from the disease. Those who travelled to the Capitol are working with legislators to change that. Tobacco use in Alaska is both a leading cause of preventable death and a leading healthcare cost driver. ACS CAN’s 2024 legislative focus will be on supporting funding for the state tobacco prevention and cessation program and protecting kids from addiction through increasing taxes. 

A well-funded, fact-based tobacco control program is needed to counteract the $16.4 million per year that tobacco companies are spending on marketing their deadly and addictive products in Alaska.   Significant tobacco tax increases, including on cigarettes and parallel taxes on all other tobacco products, are one of the most effective ways to prevent kids from starting to use tobacco and help adults quit.

As Big Tobacco has been working hard to addict future generations with e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, the need for funding for tobacco prevention programs has never been greater. ACS CAN volunteers met with lawmakers to discuss these issues and made a clear ask: Increase taxes on deadly and addictive tobacco products and increase investments in tobacco prevention and cessation programs. These are some of the best ways to keep kids from ever starting tobacco products and help those already addicted to quit.

ACS CAN volunteers also advocated for an improved, coordinated approach to healthcare through expanding telehealth access to specialized teams of providers working together for Alaska patients.

Alaska has a strong record of success in reducing tobacco addiction and developing innovative approaches to healthcare delivery, but more work is required to protect young Alaskans and support others facing serious illness.



The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocates for evidence-based public policies to reduce the cancer burden for everyone. We engage our volunteers across the country to make their voices heard by policymakers at every level of government. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and advanced proven tobacco control measures. We stand with our volunteers, working to make cancer a top priority for policymakers in cities, states and our nation’s capital. Join the fight by visiting 


More Press Releases AboutAccess to Health Care, Tobacco Control, Alaska

Media Contacts

Shawn O'Neal
Senior Regional Media Advocacy Manager