Nevada 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

RENO, NV. – August 1, 2019 – Nevada made progress in the cancer fight this year by passing a critical tobacco control law that helps address the youth e-cigarette epidemic by taxing the products for the first time and prohibiting use of e-cigarettes in non-hospitality workplaces and restaurants or wherever smoking is prohibited.


Nevada also made strides by enacting new legislation to protect kids from skin cancer later in life by allowing sunscreen at school. However, Nevada can still do more to implement policies 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, Nevada measured up to policy recommendations in just five 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 Nevada, 14,810 people will be diagnosed with cancer and, sadly, 5,390 will die from the devastating disease in 2019,” said Tom McCoy, ACS CAN Nevada 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.


A color-coded system in the report 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. 



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. 


McCoy is concerned about what the U.S. Surgeon is calling a youth e-cigarette epidemic. 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. McCoy sees the problem close to home in Nevada and worked hard to help educate lawmakers this session about why Senate Bill 263 was needed to help address the issue. The important legislation to tax e-cigarettes and cover them under the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act was signed into law in early June.


While SB 263 appropriated $2.5 million for each year of the biennium for tobacco prevention, education and cessation on top of about $1 million in existing funding, the CDC recommended funding level for Nevada is $30 million. That means even with the additional funding providing by the e-cigarette tax, Nevada will only be spending 11.67% of the CDC recommended amount. That’s why Nevada’s grade for tobacco control funding remains a Red in this year’s How Do You Measure Up? report.


“Raising the sales age to tobacco is the next step in helping Nevada get a handle on this public health crisis,” said McCoy.  “Effective legislation to raise the minimum age of sale to 21 should cover all tobacco products, provide public education and training as well as technical assistance to retailers while implementing measures for active enforcement.”


Recently, the Nevada Attorney General’s Office reported the number of cases where retailers were caught selling tobacco to youth under 18 skyrocketed from 13% to 29% as of April. Should Nevada end the year with an average violation rate above 20% it could be penalized by the federal government.


“Enforcement needs to be strengthened in Nevada or we will lose critical grant funding and, down the road, the lives of young people who face a potential lifetime addiction to tobacco,” said McCoy. “Retailers must not be allowed to sell any tobacco products to kids and we need to raise the tobacco sales age to 21.”


How Nevada Measures Up:


Increased Access to Medicaid                                                       GREEN                                              

Access to Palliative Care                                                                GREEN

Pain Policy                                                                                       YELLOW

Cigarette Tax Rates                                                                        YELLOW

Smoke-free Laws                                                                            YELLOW

Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding                RED                          

Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services                   RED

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 Nevada,” said McCoy. “We stand ready to work with our leaders to build a healthier and brighter future for Nevadans and eliminate death and suffering from cancer.”


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


More Press Releases AboutNevada