Report faults Florida’s cancer-fighting policies

medical malpractice
Florida laws meet none of the Cancer Action Network's benchmarks

A new report being released Thursday by the public policy advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society declares Florida to be among the worst states in the nation overall when it comes to state policies and laws in place to fight cancer.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network‘s “How Do you Measure Up? A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality,” gives the Sunshine State “making progress” assessments on five priority areas of policy and law, such as smoking ban laws; and three falling short ratings in other areas, such as indoor tanning laws.

Florida fully measured up to the network’s benchmarks on none of the eight priority areas.

Only Florida and Mississippi failed to measure up to benchmarks in all the areas.

In a news release, the network declared that means that Florida “ranks among the worst in the nation when it comes to implementing policies and passing legislation to prevent and reduce suffering and death from cancer.”

“This year alone in Florida, over 131,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer. We owe it to them — and to everyone at risk of developing this disease — to do everything in our power to prevent cancer and improve access to screenings and treatment,” Heather Youmans, senior director of government relations for ACS CAN in Florida, stated in the news release announcing the report.

The report highlights big-policy decisions by states, notably whether or not they approved expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which Florida and 14 other states have not done.

It also highlights some more specific legislative movements, such as restricting indoor tanning devices to adults, which Florida and 33 other states have not done.

And it covers some scalable issues, such as tax rates on cigarettes, for which Florida is rated in the middle nationally, having imposed some, but not enough to impress the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

Florida state officials were not shown the report before Thursday. Neither the Florida Department of Health nor the executive office of Gov. Ron DeSantis offered any responses Wednesday to the report’s findings.

The network is a 501(c)(4) non-profit affiliate of the American Cancer Society with staff in all 50 states advocating for cancer-fighting public policy. The network intends to share the report directly with lawmakers nationwide at the annual National Conference of State Legislatures next week in Nashville.

Specifically, the report rates Florida’s cancer-fighting policies and laws as:

Increased Access to Medicaid: Red (falling short.)

Access to Palliative Care: Yellow (making progress.)

Pain Policy: Yellow.

Cigarette Tax Rates: Yellow.

Smoke-free Laws: Yellow.

Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding: Yellow.

Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services: Red.

Indoor Tanning: Red.

This year’s report includes a special section examining efforts to stem youth tobacco product use by raising the legal age of sale for tobacco, including for e-cigarette vaping, to 21.

“As Florida lawmakers work to protect our communities from tobacco’s deadly toll, they must reject any attempts to weaken or undermine effective tobacco control efforts and implement comprehensive policies that will prevent our kids from developing a lifelong addiction to tobacco,” Youmans stated in the release.

“This year, ACS CAN worked hard to defeat a Tobacco 21 bill that was influenced by the tobacco industry and would have undermined the progress Florida has made in tobacco control, particularly with youth. Next year, we look forward to focusing on those issues that truly have an impact on youth access and use, including appropriate licensing for all tobacco retailers and enforcement,” she added.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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