Iowa Falls Short on Cancer-Fighting Public Policies

ACS CAN Report Shows State Could Improve Cigarette Taxes

August 9, 2018


DES MOINES, Iowa – Aug. 9, 2018 – Iowa falls short when it comes to implementing legislation to prevent and reduce suffering and death from cancer according to the latest edition of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality, released today. 

“Our primary concern is Iowa’s score regarding cigarette tax rates,” said Angie Sylling, ACS CAN Iowa grassroots manager. “Our volunteers will be meeting with lawmakers this fall and during the legislative session to solicit and encourage legislative support to increase Iowa’s cigarette tax."

How Do You Measure Up? rates states in nine specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer, including increase access to care through Medicaid, funding for screening programs, smoke-free laws, cigarette tax levels, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and cessation coverage under Medicaid. The report also looks at whether a state provides a balances approach to pain medication and if it has passed policies proven to increase patient quality of life.

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.

“Iowa earned a yellow grade for our cigarette tax rates,” explained Sylling. “Our state can do better. It’s important to keep the cost of using tobacco sufficiently high to discourage children from starting and encourage people who want to quit to finally do so. We’ll advocate to raise our tobacco tax by $1.50 per pack of cigarettes and hopefully that yellow will be a green by next summer’s report.” 

To view the complete report and details on Iowa’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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Jennifer Amundson
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Eagan, Minn.