Washington, D.C. – Today the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health is holding a hearing on legislation that would prohibit the sale of nearly all flavored tobacco products, including mint and menthol products, and raise the minimum age of sale of tobacco products to 21.
Louisiana Falling Short on Cancer-Fighting Public Policies
Louisiana Lawmakers Have Opportunities to Save Lives and Money byImproving Access to Affordable Health Coverage and Implementing Effective Tobacco Control and Quality of Life Measures
Louisiana 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, Louisiana measured up to policy recommendations in just two of the eight evaluated issue areas. The report was released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).
The 17th edition of the report highlights we must do more to reduce suffering and death from cancer.
“This year alone in Louisiana, 26,800 people will be diagnosed with cancer,” said Lance Barbour, Louisiana government relations director for ACS CAN. “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.”
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, introducing 88 bills that raised the age of sale for tobacco products. But state lawmakers’ good-faith efforts have been co-opted by the tobacco industry, who want to use these laws to advance policies that will interfere with effective tobacco control and protect their profits. In fact, 51 out of the 88 age of sale bills introduced in 2019 included provisions that advance tobacco industry interests. 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.
This year, Louisiana lawmakers worked to pass a tobacco 21 law that would protect our kids from a lifelong addiction. But, tobacco industry lobbyists and allies were able to weaken the bill by exempting military and first responders and by failing to increase fines and fees on retailers to boost funding for enforcement. This would have failed to keep tobacco products away from children which is why ACS CAN worked hard to see the bill defeated.
Passing and implementing the policy recommendations in the report would not only save lives in Louisiana, but also save millions in long-term health care costs and in some cases would even generate additional, much-needed revenue.
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 Louisiana Measures Up:
Increased Access to Medicaid green
Access to Palliative Care red
Pain Policy yellow
Cigarette Tax Rates yellow
Smoke-free Laws yellow
Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding red
Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services yellow
Indoor Tanning green
“By passing laws that prevent cancer and help patients get the care they need, our lawmakers can save lives and money in Louisiana,” said Barbour. “We stand ready to work with our leaders to build a healthier and brighter future for Louisianans and eliminate death and suffering from cancer.”
To view the complete report and details on Louisiana’s ratings, visit www.fightcancer.org
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.