Oregon Falls Short On Fighting Big Tobacco

posted by Anna Erickson - 

Oregon isn't doing enough in implementing policies and passing legislation to reduce cancer and fight tobacco use. 

According to a new report released Thursday by the American Cancer Society Action Network, Oregon can improve in three categories and earns a "red" or failing grade in three others, including several key tobacco control policies.

The annual report "How Do You Measure Up? A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality" specifically shows that the state can improve its tobacco taxes.

Oregon's current cigarette tax of $1.33 per pack is below the national average, and evidence shows raising tobacco prices through regular and significant tax increases of at least $1 per pack of cigarettes encourages people who use tobacco to quit and prevents kids from starting. 

Oregon can also increase its state funding for tobacco prevention programs to reduce tobacco use and tobacco-related disease, while lowering health care costs. 

Christopher Friend, Oregon Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, says, "tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and every year. The tobacco sales age was raised to 21 last year, and now we must do even more to protect kids from Big Tobacco and ensure that this industry cannot continue targeting our youth and other vulnerable populations like the LGBT community. We will work with state lawmakers in 2019 to reduce tobacco use across our state and make our communities healthier."

How Do You Measure Up? rates states in nine specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer, including increased access to care through Medicaid, funding for cancer screening programs, smoke-free laws, cigarette tax levels, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, cessation coverage under Medicaid and restricting indoor tanning devices for minors. 

The report also looks at whether a state provides a balanced approach to pain medication and if it has passed policies proven to increase patient quality of life.

To view the complete report, visit acscan.org.

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