The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network released their annual report that looks at how states stand on issues that play a role in reducing cancer rates and death. Nebraska Government Relations Director Nick Faustman says the state is falling short on cancer fighting policies. They measure nine benchmarks that state legislatures can take to fight cancer while saving lives and money. Nebraska has met two.
Faustman says, “We have met the one in the quality of life area. In 2017 we established the Palliative Care Statewide Advisory Council and we also have a smoke free law on the books. That has been on the books since about 2008 and prevents the smoking of cigarettes and cigars in public places like bars and restaurants.”
Where Nebraska fell short, Faustman says, “Expanding access to health care through Medicaid. Funding for the state’s breast and cervical cancer screening program that is known as the Every Woman Matters Program in Nebraska. We also need to raise the tobacco tax in Nebraska and funding for the Tobacco Control Program is also a priority. We also talk about access to tanning beds for minors within the report as well. All of those areas we can improve on as a state.
Faustman says their priority for the 2019 legislative session will be to increase the tobacco tax and increase funding for the Nebraska Control Program. He says, “We have gone before the legislature for the past 12 to 15 years asking them to consider an increase of at least one dollar but most recently we have advocated for $1.50.”
Nationwide, more than half of the states are making progress on polices in the fight against cancer. The “How Do You Measure Up?” report found that 30 states and the District of Columbia are making progress in enacting and strengthening polices that fight cancer. Eighteen states are falling short. Only two states are meeting six or more of the nine benchmarks.
It is estimated that more than 1.7 million people in the United States will be newly diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and more than a half a million people will die from the disease this year.