HELENA, MT—Cancer patients, survivors and volunteers met virtually with state lawmakers this week during the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s Cancer Action Week to urge them to make fighting cancer a priority.
"February is Cancer Prevention Month so it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about how to reduce death and suffering from cancer. We know that smoking is linked to at least 13 types of cancer and causes nearly 26% of cancer deaths in Montana, so we urged our lawmakers to prioritize efforts to reduce tobacco use that will help us save lives from cancer," said Keri Yoder, state lead ambassador for ACS CAN Montana.
Specifically the group urged lawmakers to:
Oppose House Bill 285 that seeks to weaken the Clean Indoor Air Act by allowing cigar smoking in bars. House Bill 285 had a hearing yesterday. ACS CAN believes everyone deserves to breathe clean, smoke-free air, and no one should have to risk their health to earn a living. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure, and secondhand smoke from cigars is just as dangerous as cigarette smoke.
Oppose House Bill 137 that would revoke local decision-making authority. The legislation would block communities from passing their own laws to regulate e-cigarettes and other tobacco products and protect people from secondhand smoke. It would overturn 11 existing local smoke-free ordinances that prohibit e-cigarette use wherever smoking is prohibited, jeopardizing the health of nearly 500,000 Montanans and preventing communities from enacting similar policies in the future.
Maintain funding for Montana’s tobacco prevention and cessation program at $4.9 million annually. Comprehensive, adequately funded tobacco prevention programs reduce tobacco use and related disease, resulting in lower health care costs. By maintaining Montana’s current funding, the state still spends just over 33% of the CDC-recommended level on tobacco prevention. Meanwhile, 1,600 Montana adults die from smoking each year and 19,000 kids under 18 are expected to die prematurely from smoking. Additionally, people who smoke or used to smoke are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
"Even as we face this pandemic, an estimated 6,930 Montanans will be diagnosed with cancer this year and 2,150 people in the state will die from the devastating disease," said Kristin Page Nei, ACS CAN Montana government relations director. "We hope our legislators prioritize these issues and we look forward to continuing conversations with them during the legislative session."
About ACS CAN
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.