SALT LAKE CITY, Utah—Utah falls short in 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 report “How Do You Measure Up? A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality” finds Utah achieves the benchmark in just one of the nine public policy areas and has room to improve in several key areas of tobacco control.
"Although we are doing well in the smoke-free category with our statewide smoke-free law, I’m concerned there’s still a lot of work we can do to reduce tobacco use and prevent tobacco-related cancers," said Brook Carlisle, ACS CAN Utah government relations director. "Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and nearly 17 percent of all cancer deaths in Utah are caused by these deadly products, so improving our tobacco control efforts will help save lives and make our state healthier."
Specifically, Utah can improve its tobacco taxes and increase its funding for the state tobacco prevention programs. Fighting tobacco effectively involves a complete approach viewed as a "three-legged" stool that includes regular, significant increases in the price of all tobacco products; implementing comprehensive smoke-free policies; and fully funding statewide tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
"ACS CAN will work with our state lawmakers in 2019 to ensure we make it easier for people who want to quit using tobacco be successful while also making sure our youth don’t start in the first place," said Carlisle. "One way we hope to do this is by working to raise Utah’s tobacco sales age to 21 next year."
How Do You Measure Up? rates states in nine specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer, including increased access to care through Medicaid, funding for cancer screening programs, smoke-free laws, cigarette tax levels, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, cessation coverage under Medicaid and restricting indoor tanning devices for minors. The report also looks at whether a state provides a balanced approach to pain medication and if it has passed policies proven to increase patient quality of life.
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.
To view the complete report and details on Utah’s grades, visit www.fightcancer.org/measure.
ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.