HONOLULU—Today, state lawmakers heard from cancer patients, survivors and volunteer advocates from across the state during a virtual Cancer Action Day, hosted by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). During online meetings and phone calls, the group urged their lawmakers to support policies to fight cancer in Hawaii.
"Throughout this pandemic, cancer hasn’t stopped and neither have we. We let our lawmakers know that at this critical moment, we’re counting on them to prioritize efforts that will save lives from cancer," said Uri Martos, Kauai resident and state lead ambassador for ACS CAN in Hawaii. "If we’re going to eliminate cancer as a major health threat, we must ensure that public health policies such as strengthening tobacco control efforts and investing in lifesaving cancer research are top of mind for our legislators."
Specifically, the group urged state lawmakers to:
- Preserve funding for Hawaii’s successful tobacco prevention and control programs. Currently, the state spends $7.9 million each year on programs to reduce tobacco use—just 58% of the amount recommended by the CDC—while facing skyrocketing rates of youth e-cigarette use. Included in this funding is the Hawaii Tobacco Control and Prevention Trust Fund, which has successfully reduced the burden of tobacco in the state for more than 20 years, saving lives and health care costs. Lawmakers are considering House Bill 1296 that would dismantle this program’s stable funding, putting Hawaii’s tobacco control efforts at risk. ACS CAN opposes this legislation.
- Regulate all tobacco products including e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes and other electronic smoking devices are currently not regulated as tobacco products in Hawaii. ACS CAN wants to ensure that all forms of tobacco products including e-cigarettes are included in the definition of tobacco products, so they can be included in tobacco sales restrictions, tobacco retail licensing and permitting requirements, and taxed at parallel rates to cigarettes and other tobacco products.
- Fund cancer research at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center. The University of Hawaii Cancer Center is one of 71 cancer research institutions in the country to receive designation from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the only one in the Hawaii Pacific region. NCI-designated cancer centers are considered the gold standard. ACS CAN opposes several bills that jeopardize the UH Cancer Center’s NCI designation and supports the continual funding of the Center to sustain research for more treatments that will save lives and improve quality of life for patients and survivors.
This year, 7,570 people in Hawaii will be diagnosed with cancer and 2,430 residents are expected to die from the disease. Nearly one-quarter of Hawaii’s cancer deaths are caused by smoking, which is linked to at least 13 types of cancer.
To learn more about ACS CAN’s cancer advocacy work, visit www.fightcancer.org/hawaii.
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.