Nearly half of all states are not measuring up in the fight against cancer. The report, developed by the American cancer Society Action Network, found that 23 states met the benchmark on only one or none of the six areas examined in the report.
South Carolina was one of seven states that did not reach any of the benchmarks in fighting cancer, which includes breast and cervical cancer early detection program funding, access to care for the uninsured, colorectal screening coverage laws, smoke-free laws, tobacco prevention program funding, and tobacco taxes. Suzanne Hyman, American Cancer Society Grassroots Manager for South Carolina says some progress was made with the state’s cigarette tax increase from the lowest in the nation seven cents to 42nd at 57 cents.
The tax increase will raise a projected $135 million annually to be spent on state-run health care programs. Supporters also say the tax increase will discourage young people from taking up the habit. Hyman points out that one of the benefits in the increase of the cigarette tax is the $5 million that will be used for tobacco prevention programs.
Hyman says efforts to get a statewide smoke-free law has fallen short, but grassroots efforts at the local level is steadily bearing fruit. Hyman says while progress has been made in the last few years in securing state funding for cancer prevention initiatives, with the budget slashing by the General Assembly this past session, the state has taken a step back. Hyman says the American Cancer Society in South Carolina will be communicating with state legislators during the next legislative session about the importance of increasing state funding for cancer prevention programs.
Hyman says in the area of health disparities, the American Cancer Society will continue to initiate partnerships with minority group organizations to develop more effective programs that emphasize lifestyle changes and early detection.