Gov. Ralph Northam Receives National Distinguished Advocacy Award for Championing Lifesaving Cancer Public Policy

Award is Highest Honor Presented by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

October 18, 2018

Gov. Ralph Northam received the National Distinguished Advocacy Award, the most prestigious award presented by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in recognition of his dedication to protect children and workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke and expanding access to healthcare.


ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, presents the annual award to select lawmakers who demonstrate outstanding leadership in the area of cancer-related public policy advocacy.


“Gov. Northam has made tremendous strides in the fight against cancer by expanding health care coverage to thousands of Virginians,” said Chris Hansen, president of ACS CAN. “Through his steadfast commitment to increasing access to lifesaving health coverage, Gov. Northam demonstrated his dedication to supporting cancer patients and their families across the state. We are grateful to have him as a partner and a champion in our efforts to impact the cancer burden.”


Northam has been a longtime supporter and champion of public health issues. He was a past trustee of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and participated in several events promoting tobacco prevention efforts, including kicking off the 24/7 Tobacco-Free Spirit Day campaign in 2015. As a State Senator he sponsored a bill to make restaurants and bars smoke-free.


"Protecting the health of every Virginian is important to me—that’s why I worked to pass the smoking ban Virginia restaurants and it’s why I’ve worked with the General Assembly to expand healthcare access for 400,000 Virginians." 


Northam also sponsored a bill to ban smoking in vehicles with children under the age of eight and continued to work towards the bill’s passage while serving as Lieutenant Governor. As a candidate for governor, Ralph Northam, ran on a platform that included expanding access to healthcare.


As a doctor, Gov. Northam spoke about his desire to work with leadership at the Statehouse to make coverage for more than 400,000 Virginians a reality. Following his successful election, now Gov. Northam, worked with members of the leadership to outline a plan for Virginia to help overcome five years of resistance by the legislature.


“Gov. Northam’s relationships and reputation with members on both sides of the aisle allowed him to achieve the support necessary to bring this issue to fruition,” said Brian Donohue, Virginia government relations director, ACS CAN. “His unwavering support of important legislation has made a critical difference in reducing the toll of cancer on patients, survivors and their families and is helping to save lives in Virginia and across the country.”


The award was announced at ACS CAN’s annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., as nearly 700 volunteers and staff from across the country convened to ask Congress to support policies that increase cancer research funding, improve patient quality of life and make colorectal cancer screenings more affordable for seniors. The award was presented to the governor today during a ceremony in his office.


ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate organization of the American Cancer Society, dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage lawmakers, candidates and government officials to support laws and policies that will make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer. For more information, visit

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