West Virginia Lawmakers are Falling Short on Cancer-Fighting Public Policies

ACS CAN Looks Forward to Working with Lawmakers to Reduce the Toll of Tobacco by Increasing Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Funding

August 1, 2019

Charleston, W. VA. – West Virginia 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.

“This report shows that we must do more to reduce suffering and death from cancer. But we have the power to make a difference for West Virginians immediately by implementing proven cancer-fighting policies,” said Ryann Moore, West Virginia grassroots manager for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “This year alone in West Virginia, 12,440 people will be diagnosed with cancer and 32.6% of cancer deaths in West Virginia are attributed to smoking. We owe it to them and everyone at risk of developing the disease, to do what we know works to prevent cancer and improve access to screenings and treatment.”

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. 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 are falling short. 

West Virginia has one of the highest rates of tobacco related cancer incidents and mortalities in the country. ACS CAN looks forward to working with lawmakers to reduce the toll of tobacco by increasing tobacco prevention and cessation funding.

“As advocates, we have the opportunity to work with our West Virginia legislators on implementing policies and programs that prevent and treat cancer,” said Moore. “Together, we can build stronger, healthier communities and ensure West Virginians have access to measures that prevent disease before it occurs, ultimately saving more lives from cancer.”

To view the complete report and details on West Virginia’s grades, 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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