February is National Cancer Prevention Month and with that in mind, our guest blog today comes to us from Brian Hummell of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN). Take a look at what Brian has to share and then let us know what you think. Working together with our partners to bring you the latest health information affecting the people of our state is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!
State lawmakers must seize opportunities to reduce Arizona’s cancer burden
By Brian Hummell, ACS CAN Arizona Government Relations Director
Arizona just proved we can quickly mobilize to address health issues – just look at the state’s swift response to the opioid crisis.
It’s time to see that same urgency when it comes to cancer because every day, more than 90 of our neighbors receive a cancer diagnosis. Does that number surprise you? More importantly: Does it move you to act?
I hope it inspires you to do something, because it doesn’t have to be that way. According to the 2017 edition of “How Do You Measure Up? A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality,” Arizona measured up to cancer-fighting policy recommendations in just three of the nine issue areas ranked. The report, released by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), indicates that while the state’s made strides to reduce our cancer burden, we fall short when it comes to supporting policies and passing legislation to prevent and reduce suffering and death from cancer.
This legislative session, ACS CAN volunteers are asking the Legislature to raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. We’ve been here before. In 2016, the tobacco 21 bill passed through one House committee but was blocked in another and did not receive a hearing. It was an unfortunate turn of events for a bill with incredible potential to save lives.
Right now, it’s easy for teens to get tobacco products by simply turning to their 18-year-old classmates. Raising the tobacco age to 21 would help keep these deadly products out of high schools. And what’s more, studies show that if an individual hasn’t become a regular tobacco user by the age of 21, they have a 95 percent likelihood of never smoking.
We’ve made great strides through great efforts and resources to reduce the smoking rate in Arizona, but without further action there are 115,000 children alive today who will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.
As we have with the passage of a statewide smoke-free law in 2006, Arizona must again stand up to Big Tobacco. This session there is a clear legislative path to curb tobacco use, and we must muster the will to act.