New Report: Oregon Gets Mixed Results on Public Policies to Fight Cancer

Oregon Has Room to Improve Tobacco Control Efforts Including Raising the Price of Cigarettes and Taxing E-cigarettes to Save Lives, Reduce Healthcare Costs

August 1, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore.—Oregon gets mixed results for implementing policies and passing legislation to prevent and reduce cancer, according to a new report released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). The annual "How Do You Measure Up? A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality" finds Oregon meets the benchmark in four categories and falls short in just one area. However, the state has room to improve in several key areas of tobacco control, specifically increasing its cigarette tax rate.

"Right now, Oregon’s cigarette tax rate is below the national average, which is not where we want to be. Oregon also doesn’t tax e-cigarettes, which are rampant in our schools and communities," said Christopher Friend, ACS CAN Oregon government relations director. "Given that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death, we must do everything to help people quit and make sure young people don’t get addicted in the first place. We can do much better to protect kids from tobacco use and make our state healthier."

During the 2019 legislative session, ACS CAN supported legislation to raise the state’s tobacco tax by $2 per pack and tax e-cigarettes at an equal rate. Lawmakers passed House Bill 2270, referring the $2 tobacco tax increase to the November 2020 ballots for voters to decide.

This year, roughly 5,500 Oregonians will die from smoking. Smoking also causes about 28 percent of all cancer deaths in the state. Tobacco use also costs the state more than $1.5 billion in annual health care costs. Regular and significant tobacco tax increases are one of the most effective ways to help adults quit and prevent kids from starting, while saving health care costs overall. 

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 classifies how well a state is doing in each issue. Green indicates 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 Oregon Measures Up:

Increased Access to Medicaid                                                  Green

Access to Palliative Care                                                           Green

Pain Policy                                                                                  Yellow

Cigarette Tax Rates                                                                   Yellow

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 Oregon’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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