New Report: Colorado Gets Mixed Results on Cancer-Fighting Public Policies

State-by-State Report Outlines Colorado’s Efforts to Fight Cancer through Tobacco Control, Access to Care and Cancer Prevention Policies

August 1, 2019

DENVER, Colo.—Colorado gets mixed results for its policies and legislation to prevent cancer, according to a new report released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). In the latest edition of How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality, Colorado met the policy benchmark in three of the eight issue areas and has room for improvement in two. The state fell short in three other areas, including indoor tanning restrictions for minors and tobacco taxes.

This year alone, more than 26,800 Coloradans will be diagnosed with cancer and more than 8,100 people will die from the disease,” said R.J. Ours, Colorado government relations director for ACS CAN. “We must do everything to prevent cancer and improve access to screenings and treatment. This report provides a legislative path forward for lawmakers to improve cancer prevention efforts, curb tobacco use, and prioritize the quality of life for patients and their families."
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.
While Colorado falls short in some critical policies, the state made great progress in 2019 by updating the smoke-free law to prohibit electronic cigarettes in all indoor locations covered under the Clean Indoor Air Act. Lawmakers also removed preemption, which had previously blocked local governments from passing their own tobacco ordinances, allowing communities to regulate and tax tobacco products. To build on this momentum, state lawmakers should raise the age of sale for all tobacco products including e-cigarettes to age 21 and increase the state’s low tobacco tax. 
"The report also highlights areas for improvement, including increasing access to colorectal cancer screening and indoor tanning. ACS CAN will work to update Colorado's colorectal screening guidelines to match the American Cancer Society’s new age recommendations. In May 2018, the American Cancer Society updated its guidelines for colorectal cancer screening, lowering the recommendation age for average-risk adults from 50 to 45.
To address Colorado's red or "failing grade" for indoor tanning, the state must pass legislation to prohibit minors under age 18 from using indoor tanning devices. The greatest avoidable known risk factor for skin cancer is the use of indoor tanning devices and studies show using indoor tanning devices before the age of 35 increases melanoma risk by 59%. This year, 1,830 Coloradans will be diagnosed with melanoma.
"Colorado has made some good progress, but we’ve got still got a lot of work to do," Ours added. "Passing and implementing the policy recommendations in this report would not only save lives in Colorado, it would also save millions in long-term health care costs and in some cases even generate additional, much-needed revenue for the state."
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 Colorado Measures Up:

Increased Access to Medicaid                                                  Green

Access to Palliative Care                                                           Red

Pain Policy                                                                                  Yellow

Cigarette Tax Rates                                                                    Red

Smoke-free Laws                                                                       Green

Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding           Yellow                        

Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services               Green

Indoor Tanning                                                                            Red

To view the complete report and details on Colorado’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
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Media Contacts

RJ Ours
Colorado Government Relations Director
Noe Baker
Senior Regional Media Advocacy Manager