Illinois Makes Progress on Tobacco Control, Cancer-Fighting Public Policies

August 1, 2019

Illinois has made progress when it comes to passing legislation that prevents and reduces 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, Illinois measured up to policy recommendations in two of four areas of tobacco control. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network released the report today.


The 17th edition of the report reflects Illinois’ new laws to raise the minimum age for tobacco sales to 21 years old and increase the tobacco tax to $2.98 per pack of cigarettes. The current national average for state cigarette taxes is $1.81 per pack. No state tax comes close to matching the health and lost productivity costs attributed to smoking, which are estimated at $19.16 per pack.


“Illinois’ smoking rate still remains above the national average, which is why our lawmakers worked hard this year to address our tobacco epidemic,” said Shana Crews, Illinois government relations director for ACS CAN. “Regular and significant tobacco tax increases, comprehensive smoke-free air laws and fully funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs are the three main ways that states can effectively combat tobacco use. But as this report illustrates, there are more ways that Illinois can help prevent cancer throughout the state.”


How Do You Measure Up? rates states in eight specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer. 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 Illinois Measures Up:


Increased Access to Medicaid                                                Green

Access to Palliative Care                                                        Red

Pain Policy                                                                             Red

Cigarette Tax Rates                                                                Green

Smoke-free Laws                                                                    Green

Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding           Red                                         

Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services              Red

Indoor Tanning                                                                       Green


“This year, more than 68,000 Illinoisans will be diagnosed with cancer,” Crews said. “We owe it to them – and to everyone at risk of developing this disease – to do everything in our power to prevent cancer and improve access to screenings and treatment. This report provides lawmakers a legislative path forward to improve cancer prevention efforts, curb tobacco use, prioritize the quality of life for patients and their families and increase access to critical health coverage.”


To view the complete report and details on Illinois’ ratings, visit


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

More Press Releases AboutTobacco Taxes, Tobacco Control, Illinois

Media Contacts

Tracy Lytwyn
Sr. Manager, Regional Media Advocacy