Montana Makes Progress Enacting Cancer-Fighting Legislation But Falls Short in Other Policy Areas

State Lawmakers Have Opportunities to Save Lives and Money by Improving Access to Affordable Health Coverage and Implementing Effective Tobacco Control and Quality of Life Measures

August 1, 2019

HELENA, Montana – August 1, 2019 – Montana made progress in the cancer fight by re-authorizing Medicaid this year but fell short when the Legislature did not pass legislation to protect youth from the risk of deadly skin cancer by restricting access to tanning devices for those under the age of 18.


According to the latest edition of How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality, Montana measured up to policy recommendations in just three of the eight evaluated issue areas. The report was released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), which is the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society. The 17th edition of the report highlights what we must do more to reduce suffering and death from cancer.


“This year alone in Montana 5,920 people will be diagnosed with cancer and, sadly, 2,100 will die from the devastating disease in 2019,” said Kristin Page-Nei, ACS CAN Montana Government Relations Director. “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.”


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 overall 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.   


Page-Nei is concerned about what the U.S. Surgeon is calling a youth e-cigarette epidemic. She sees the problem close to home in Montana. Menthol, fruit and candy flavored tobacco products are a key part of the tobacco industry’s strategy to bait youth into becoming tomorrow’s addicts. These products are luring youth into a potential lifetime addiction to nicotine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data in February showing e-cigarette use among high schoolers jumped an alarming 78% in the last year.


Passing and implementing the policy recommendations in the report would not only save lives in Montana, 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.

To view the complete report and details on Montana’s ratings, visit

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