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New York State Gets Mixed Reviews On Cancer-Fighting Public Policies

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A new report says New York state is making progress when it comes to implementing policies to combat cancer.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is out with its annual report, a snapshot showing how states are doing when it comes to preventing and treating cancer.  Julie Hart is the network's Senior Director of Government Relations.   "New York state kind of got mixed reviews in this report, which is a little bit troubling considering that 110,000 people each year receive a cancer diagnosis, and over 35,000 people pass from cancer each year. Those numbers are pretty scary. That's about 96 deaths per day from cancer. But we know with smart policy solutions that we can reduce this number."

The report entitled "How Do You Measure Up?" rates states in eight specific areas of public policy that can be measured:   "There were some areas, when it comes to increasing access to Medicaid, we're doing really well. New York state has the highest cigarette tax in the nation.  We have a comprehensive smoke-free law and we also improve dour Indoor Tanning Law.  So there are some areas that we're doing really in, that we're leading the nation. There are some areas where we've made some progress. When it comes to pain management and palliative care, we still have some work to do. There's been lots of discussions about opioids and it's really important as we move forward that we make sure that we have a balanced approach when it comes to pain management, and we need to preserve legitimate access to pain management for those who need it.   When it comes to Palliative Care, treating the whole person, not just the disease, so we need to stop thinking of Palliative Care as 'end of life solutions,' let's think about this as 'quality of life' and make sure that patients get Palliative Care options and support to improve their quality of life as well."

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"Tobacco Control Program Funding. And unfortunately this is an area that we've been talking about for years and to no avail. If we really wanna make a dent in our smoking rates and in our tobacco use rates, we absolutely need to invest in our tobacco control program. There's no doubt that tobacco companies are investing to try to hook new smokers and try to hook kids on new products."

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network says New York invests $39.7 million in the Tobacco Control Program, short of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation of $203 million.

In July, the Albany County Legislature tabled a controversial local law that would have banned the sale of flavored vapor products, smokeless tobacco products, flavored cigars, pipe tobacco and cigarettes.  Retailers fought hard against the measure, arguing businesses would suffer as customers would flock to neighboring counties for their tobacco needs. New York Association of Convenience Stores President Jim Calvin:   "We estimate that the impact on convenience stores in Albany County would be in the range of $50 million a year. And if we lose $50 million a year in legitimate sales, that means Albany County's gonna lose $2 million a year in sales tax on those sales, so the impact is significant."

In mid-July Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation raising the purchase age statewide from 18 to 21 for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping products.

VIEW the Cancer Action Network's full report detailing New York and neighboring states’ ratings.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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