South Carolina Falling Short on Cancer-Fighting Public Policies

South Carolina 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

South Carolina is falling short 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, South Carolina measured up to policy recommendations in just two 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 that South Carolina must do more to reduce suffering and death from cancer.


“This year alone in South Carolina, 29,830 people will be diagnosed with cancer,” said Beth Johnson, South Carolina government relations director for ACS CAN. “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. This report provides lawmakers a legislative path forward to improve cancer prevention efforts, curb tobacco use, prioritize the quality of life for patients and their families and increase access to critical health coverage.”


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.


One of the areas where South Carolina doesn’t measure up is protecting teens 17 years old and younger from the damaging effects of using indoor tanning devices. Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. The greatest avoidable known risk factor for it is the use of indoor tanning devices. Research shows those who use tanning devices before age 35 increase their risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 59 percent.


Not only are skin cancer patients left with visible scars from the removal of their cancers, but they must adhere to rigid follow up examinations to ensure that their cancers haven’t come back. Patients with deeper melanomas often undergo even more extensive surgery to remove lymph nodes and may need chemotherapy.  


Tobacco continues to be a concern in South Carolina. As lawmakers work to protect our communities from tobacco’s deadly toll, they 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.


Passing and implementing the policy recommendations in the report would not only save lives in South Carolina, but also save millions in long-term health care costs and in some cases would even generate additional, much-needed revenue.


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 South Carolina Measures Up:


Increased Access to Medicaid                                                    red

Access to Palliative Care                                                             green

Pain Policy                                                                                     yellow

Cigarette Tax Rates                                                                      red

Smoke-free Laws                                                                          red

Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding              red                                          

Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services                 green

Indoor Tanning                                                                              red


Members of the South Carolina House of Representatives have already passed a bill to protect teens from the cancer-causing ultra violet (UV) radiation emitted by indoor tanning devices. The Senate will have the opportunity to improve the legislature’s benchmark ratings in the next legislative session by voting in favor of this strong bill.


“By passing laws that prevent cancer and help patients get the care they need, our lawmakers can save lives and money in South Carolina,” said Johnson. “We stand ready to work with our leaders to build a healthier and brighter future for South Carolinians and eliminate death and suffering from cancer.”


To view the complete report and details on South Carolina’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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