How does Rhode Island measure up in fight against cancer?
To the Editor:
In the last two decades, we have seen a 25 percent drop in the cancer death rate. But our work is not complete. Research suggests that roughly half of all cancer deaths can be prevented if we avoid tobacco, get physical activity, eat a healthy diet and get regular, recommended cancer screenings. In order to do this, people need access to services that help them quit tobacco, get exercise and access the care they need. That’s where lawmakers come in. Our local and state policymakers play a crucial role in the fight against cancer by passing laws that help reduce the toll of the disease – which will claim over 2,100 lives in Rhode Island this year alone.
Rhode Island is getting mixed reviews on legislative efforts to combat cancer, according to American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s 15th annual report, How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality. The report evaluates each state’s legislative activity on issues such as access to care, cancer prevention and tobacco control. Rhode Island only measured up in five of nine critical benchmarks measured in the report.
One of the most important things lawmakers can do to improve the state’s efforts to prevent and fight the devastating effects of cancer, is to increase funding for the state’s tobacco control program. Unfortunately, Rhode Island is only budgeting less than three percent of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended funding level – despite knowing that an increased investment in this program would result in long term healthcare costs savings of nearly $18.9 million.
State policymakers must act now. We cannot miss opportunities to enact policies that could save money and, most importantly, save lives.
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Volunteer (ACS CAN)