State of the Union to Illustrate Importance of Public-Private Partnership in Improving Public Health

Statement of Christopher W. Hansen, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)

January 20, 2015

WASHINGTON January 20, 2015 In his address to Congress tonight, the president is expected to emphasize critical health priorities that each depend on public-private partnerships for success in ξdefeating life-threatening diseases such as cancer, which kills more than 1,600 people in America each day.

The president 's public health priorities point to the vital roles that the public and private sectors play in the fight against cancer. Saving lives from cancer requires robust federal investments in medical research, and we strongly support the administration 's goal to increase research funding for the National Cancer Institute. Such research has provided groundbreaking insight into cancer genetics and the body 's immune system that private sector innovation has continued to leverage to develop targeted treatments.

Improving access to care is critical to get research advances in early detection and treatment from the laboratory bench to the patient 's bedside. Important protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have enabled millions of previously uninsured people to access those advances through private health coverage. American Cancer Society research has shown lack of access to quality health care reduces a person 's ability to fight and to survive cancer. ξHealth care that is required to include coverage adequate to prevent and treat cancer is vital to reducing the cancer burden.

The public-private partnership has been most successful in reducing the toll of tobacco use. CVS Health set an historic example last fall when it stopped selling tobacco products in all of its stores. The administration 's decision to highlight one of the growing number of companies doing its part to reduce tobacco use signals tobacco control is a top national priority. Elected officials and policymakers must do their part by supporting proven policies that restrict access to tobacco products, fully fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs and limit the places that people smoke.

A critical first step is for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to finalize its proposal to regulate all unregulated tobacco products including cigars, e-cigarettes and hookah. In addition, Congress should act quickly to build on efforts to turn the tide of tobacco addiction and increase the federal tobacco tax. If smoking persists at its current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million Americans younger than 18 years old alive today will die prematurely from a smoking-related illness.

The administration also has an important opportunity with new trade agreements on the horizon, to stop the tobacco industry 's international assault on tobacco regulation here and elsewhere. The industry 's practice of subverting trade agreements to challenge national health regulations and laws must end if we are to make progress reducing tobacco deaths worldwide.

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


Alissa Crispino or Steven Weiss

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Phone: (202) 661-5772 or (202) 661-5711

Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

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