Kentucky Falling Short on Cancer-Fighting Public Policies in 2019

Kentucky Still Has a Long Way to Go When It Comes to Preventing Cancer. Unfortunately, Kentucky is #1 in Incidence and Mortalities from Cancer.

August 1, 2019

Lexington, KY – Kentucky is falling short when it comes to implementing 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.

“This report shows that we must do more to reduce suffering and death from cancer. But we have the power to make a difference for Kentuckians immediately by implementing proven cancer-fighting policies,” said Kristy Young, Kentucky government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “This year alone in Kentucky, 26,400 people will be diagnosed with cancer and 34% of cancer deaths in Kentucky are attributed to smoking. We owe it to them and everyone at risk of developing the disease, to do what we know works to prevent cancer and improve access to screenings and treatment.”

How Do You Measure Up? rates states in eight specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer: increased access to care through Medicaid, access to palliative care, balanced pain control policies, cigarette tax levels, smoke-free laws, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, cessation coverage under Medicaid and restricting indoor tanning devices for people under 18.

This year’s report includes a special section examining efforts to stem youth tobacco product use by raising the legal age of sale for tobacco to 21. E-cigarettes have driven a dramatic 36% rise in youth tobacco product use over the last year—and in statehouses across the country, policymakers have prioritized efforts to keep tobacco products out of the hands of our kids. The special section draws attention to Big Tobacco’s dangerous agenda—including preempting local governments’ ability to pass strong tobacco control laws—and outlines the principles that make tobacco 21 policies effective.

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. 

Kentucky still has a long way to go when it comes to preventing cancer. Unfortunately, Kentucky is #1 in incidence and mortalities from cancer. ACS CAN looks forward to working with lawmakers to prevent cancer diagnosis by passing comprehensive tobacco 21 legislation and increasing the states cigarettes tax by at least $1 per pack.

“As advocates, we have the opportunity to work with our Kentucky legislators on implementing policies and programs that prevent cancer,” said Pam Pilgrim, state lead ambassador, ACS CAN. “Together, we can build stronger, healthier communities and ensure Kentuckians have access to measures that prevent disease before it occurs, ultimately saving more lives from cancer.”

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


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