The report from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network uses nine key benchmark areas where states play a critical role in reducing cancer incidence and death.
Jen Schulte, the organization’s director of government relations, says each state gets either a red mark for falling short, a yellow mark for making some progress or a green mark for doing well.
“Nebraska came in with six reds, two yellows and one green, the green being their statewide, comprehensive smoke-free air act,” Schulte says.
One of the half-dozen areas where the Husker State is doing poorly is in the category of how much state money is devoted to tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
“One thing they continue to work on for the 2016 legislative session is their tobacco funding,” Schulte says. “They’re only funding at about 11.4% of the CDC-recommended level.”
The Centers for Disease Control recommends Nebraska spend $21-million a year on tobacco prevention efforts, but the state only spends about $2-million.
Nebraska’s cigarette tax is another “red” area. The state only charges a tax of 64-cents a pack, compared to the national average of $1.59. Some states tack on a tax of $2, $3 and even $4 per pack. New York’s cigarette tax is the nation’s highest at $4.35.
On this year’s report, only three states met six out of the nine benchmarks that were measured and no state met seven or more.
“We’re optimistic that we can continue to mobilize our grassroots volunteers and work on policies that can move from red to yellow or from yellow to green,” Schulte says. “It’s something we strive to do and hope we can work with the legislature to bump up our grades on some of these.”
This is the 13th year for the report, called: “How Do You Measure Up? A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality.”
See the full report for Nebraska and any other state at the website of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network: www.acscan.org