Florida Falling Short on Cancer-Fighting Public Policies

Florida Lawmakers Have Opportunities to Save Lives and Money

September 1, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – August 11, 2016 – Florida is falling short when it comes to supporting 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,  Florida measured up to policy recommendations in just one of the 10 issue areas ranked. The report was released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).


“We’ve made tremendous progress in the way we diagnose and treat cancer across the country. But to leverage this progress, Florida legislators must take advantage of the opportunities to pass evidence-based laws and policies that are proven to save lives and money,” said Heather Youmans, Florida’s Senior Director for Government Relations for ACS CAN. “In Florida alone in 2016, 121,240 people will be diagnosed with cancer and 43,600 will die from it. We can’t wait to take action when the stakes are that high. This report outlines ways lawmakers can make a difference by emphasizing cancer prevention, curbing tobacco use and prioritizing quality of life for patients and their families.”


How Do You Measure Up? rates states in 10 specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer, including smoke-free laws, tobacco tax levels, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs and cessation coverage under Medicaid, funding for cancer screening programs and restricting indoor tanning devices for minors. The report also looks at whether or not a state has said yes to federal funds available to increase access to care through its Medicaid program, has passed policies proven to increase patient quality of life, offers a well-balanced approach to pain medications and, for the first time, examines where states land when it comes to passing and implementing legislation to help ensure patients’ oral chemotherapy drugs are covered by insurance the same as intravenous chemotherapy.


Additionally, the report offers a blueprint for states to effectively implement provisions of the health care law in a way that benefits cancer patients and their families, and discusses the negative financial impact if Florida fails to take action on cancer-fighting policy. Passing and implementing the policy recommendations in the report would not only save lives in Florida, 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 Florida Measures Up:

Cigarette Tax Rates: Yellow

Smoke-free Laws: Yellow

Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding: Yellow

Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services: Red

Indoor Tanning Device Use Restrictions: Red

Increased Access to Medicaid: Red

Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Funding: Yellow

Access to Palliative Care: Yellow

Pain Policy: Yellow

Oral Chemotherapy Parity: Green


Florida’s biggest opportunity to save lives, reduce health care costs and generate much-needed revenue to address other public health issues starts with increasing the price of cigarettes by at least $1 per pack.  Florida’s cigarette tax has not been raised since 2009. Evidence clearly shows that raising tobacco prices through regular and significant tax rate increases encourages tobacco users to quit or cut down and prevents kids from ever using the deadly product.


“As advocates, we’ve worked hard to educate Floridians about ways to prevent and treat cancer, but our voice is not enough if state and local policymakers don’t take action to fund and implement state policies and programs that are proven to save lives,” said Youmans.


Nationally, the report finds that only four states meet six out of the 10 benchmarks measured. Maine and Massachusetts are the only two states to meet seven out of the 10 benchmarks. Oral chemotherapy fairness legislation is the most met benchmark with 42 states and the District of Columbia considered “doing well.”


To view the complete report and details on Florida’s grades, visit


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


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