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Cancer Society: Oregon falls short in fighting Big Tobacco


Oregon falls short in implementing policies and passing legislation to reduce cancer and fight tobacco use, according to a report released Thursday by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

The annual report “How Do You Measure Up? A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality” finds Oregon achieves the benchmark in three of the nine public policy areas. Oregon can improve in three categories and earns a “red” or failing grade in three others, including several key tobacco control policies.

“Oregon has made some great progress over the years in some areas of cancer prevention, access to care and quality of life, but there is still a lot of work left to do with our efforts to combat the constant threat from the tobacco industry,” said Christopher Friend, ACS CAN Oregon government relations director.

Specifically, Oregon can improve its tobacco taxes. The state’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.

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and every year, 5,500 Oregonians die from smoking,” said Friend. “We raised the tobacco sales age 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. ACS CAN 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.

A color-coded system classifies how well a state is doing in each issue. Green indicates 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.

Click here to view the complete report and details on Oregon’s grades.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit

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