OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma is in a multi-year stretch of public health wins when it comes to implementing policies and passing legislation 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, Oklahoma measured up to policy recommendations in four of the eight evaluated issue areas. The report was released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).
The 17th edition of the report highlights the year-after-year progress Oklahoma’s Legislature has made to reduce suffering and death from cancer. The state earned a higher grade in state funding for tobacco control because the funds increased from $19 million in fiscal year 2018 to $21.3 million in 2019 —50.03% of what the Centers for Disease Control recommends be spent.
“Our volunteers are excited about this streak of public health wins and look forward to getting back to the Capitol,” said ACS CAN Oklahoma Government Relations Director Scott Tohlen. “It’s estimated that over 3,200 of our neighbors will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year, and that’s why we must work to protect all Oklahomans from tobacco. “We need a statewide smoke-free law to help eliminate exposure to deadly secondhand smoke and to combat the growing youth e-cigarette crisis in our state.”
Oklahoma’s lawmakers must reject any attempts to weaken or undermine effective tobacco control legislation and implement comprehensive policies that will prevent our kids from developing a lifelong addiction to tobacco.
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 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. But state lawmakers’ good-faith efforts have been co-opted by the tobacco industry, who want to use these laws to advance policies that will interfere with effective tobacco control and protect their profits. In fact, 51 out of the 88 age of sale bills introduced in 2019 included provisions that advance tobacco industry interests. The special section draws attention to Big Tobacco’s dangerous agenda—including preempting local governments’ ability to pass strong tobacco control laws—and outlines the principles that make tobacco 21 policies effective.
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 fall short.
How Oklahoma Measures Up:
Increased Access to Medicaid Red
Access to Palliative Care Green
Pain Policy Yellow
Cigarette Tax Rates Green
Smoke-free Laws Red
Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding Green
Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services Yellow
Indoor Tanning Green