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cancerAlbany, NY – New York State is making progress but still must take further action  when it comes to supporting 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,  New York State measured up to policy recommendations in just four of the nine issue areas ranked. The report was released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

"We've made tremendous progress in the way we diagnose and treat cancer across the country. But to leverage this progress, the Governor and New York State legislators must take advantage of the opportunities to pass evidence-based laws and policies that are proven to save lives and money," said Bill Sherman, vice-president, government relations of the eastern division of ACS CAN. "In New York State alone in 2015, more than 107,800 people will be diagnosed with cancer and approximately 34,600 will die from it. We can't wait to take action when the stakes are that high. This report outlines ways lawmakers can make a difference by emphasizing cancer prevention, curbing tobacco use and prioritizing quality of life for patients and their families."

How Do You Measure Up? rates states in nine specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer, including smoke-free laws, tobacco tax levels, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs and cessation coverage under Medicaid, funding for cancer screening programs and restricting indoor tanning devices for minors. The report also looks at whether or not a state has said yes to federal funds available to increase access to care through its Medicaid program, has passed policies proven to increase patient quality of life and offers a well-balanced approach to pain medications.

Additionally, the report offers a blueprint for states to effectively implement provisions of the health care law in a way that benefits cancer patients and their families, and discusses the negative financial impact if New York State fails to take action on cancer-fighting policy. How Do You Measure Up? also focuses on e-cigarettes and recommends that their use be restricted in places that smoking combustible cigarettes is prohibited. The New York State Assembly passed such a bill in the just completed legislative session. The Senate failed to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

Sherman said, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that use of e-cigarettes by children has tripled in the last year and 75 per cent of these new e-cigarette users are also smoking combustible cigarettes. We strongly believe this is due to the insidious marketing tactics of e-cigarette manufacturers who are heavily targeting youth with these products and promoting the widespread use in all public places to normalize 'smoking' among young people. ACS CAN once again is looking to the New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo to pass and enact legislation that will regulate the use of e-cigarettes in workplaces, business and other venues where the use of combustible cigarettes is prohibited."

Passing and implementing the policy recommendations in the report would not only save lives in New York State, 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 New York State Measures Up:

  • Cigarette Tax Rates
  • Smoke-free Laws
  • Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding
  • Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services
  • Indoor Tanning Device Restrictions
  • Increased Access to Medicaid
  • Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Funding
  • Access to Palliative Care
  • Pain Policy
"As advocates, we've worked hard to educate New York State residents about ways to prevent and treat cancer, but our voice is not enough if state and local policymakers don't take action to fund and implement state policies and programs that are proven to save lives," said Sherman.

Nationally, the report finds that only three states meet six out of the nine benchmarks measured. While 25 states and the District of Columbia are making progress in enacting and strengthening policies that fight cancer, unfortunately the remaining 25 states are falling short and no state meets seven or more benchmarks. No state received a green rating in more than six categories measure.

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