ANNAPOLIS, Md.– Cancer patients, survivors and advocates from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) rallied at the Capitol today in support of raising the minimum sales age for all tobacco products to 21, prohibiting minors under the age of 18 from using tanning devices and other cancer prevention issues.
“When you consider the toll that cancer takes each year in Maryland, we must ensure policies are in place that will begin to minimize the impact of this disease,” said Jocelyn Collins, government relations director for ACS CAN in Maryland and DC. “Ensuring our children are protected from the proven dangers of tobacco products and indoor tanning devices will ensure a future with fewer people being diagnosed with cancer.”
ACS CAN is advocating to raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21, an effort that have been endorsed by the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland as well as the Democratic Caucus of Maryland. Sen. Delores G. Kelley (D-10) and Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-25) are expected to file bills that would raise the age, an important step to combat tobacco use, save lives and protect future generations. Unless current smoking rates decline, 92,000 Maryland kids alive today will eventually die prematurely from tobacco-related illnesses.
ACS CAN also is supporting HB 124/SB 299 Tanning Devices - Use by Minors, which would prohibit minors under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning devices. Sponsored by Senator Joanne Benson (D-24) and Delegate Karen Lewis Young (D-3A), the bill would reduce the risk of skin cancer for Maryland youth, including melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. Using an indoor tanning device before the age of 35 increases the risk of melanoma by 59 percent.
Additional issues that ACS CAN volunteers met with legislators about included state funding for the Breast and Cervical Cancer programs and cancer research funding for Maryland’s Academic Medical Centers.
During the opening session of the event, lifetime achievement awards were presented to Barbara Frush, former Delegate from D-21 and Isiah “Ike” Leggett, former Montgomery County executive. Additionally, Distinguished Advocacy Awards were presented to Senator Delores Kelley (D-10), Delegates Dereck Davis (D-25) and Samuel “Sandy” Rosenberg (D-41). A special award also was presented to Delegate Darryl Barnes (D-25).
Maryland is projected to have 33,140 new cancer cases diagnosed during 2019 and 10,780 are projected to die from the disease. Additionally, there are more than 254,000 Marylanders alive today who have survived a cancer diagnosis.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network 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.