A recent report from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) found that South Carolina is falling short on cancer-fighting policies.
South Carolina ACS CAN government relations director Beth Johnson told South Carolina Radio Network the shortcomings have an impact on healthcare costs.
“We want to make sure that we are preventing cancer,” she said. “It’s a lot less to prevent cancer than it is to treat cancer.”
The society said South Carolina is falling short meeting benchmarks in 2 of the 9 issues. The state gets failing grades from ACS CAN on tobacco control. The report notes 30 percent of cancer deaths in South Carolina are attributable to tobacco. It claims the product costs the state $1.9 billion in healthcare costs each year.
“What we can do is increase the tobacco tax,” Johnson said. “It really is a win for public health. It’s a win for cost care savings. And it’s a win that generates revenue for our state.”
South Carolina last increased its cigarette tax to 57 cents per-pack in 2010, with the legislature overriding a veto from then-Gov. Mark Sanford.
The report also knocks the state over a recent spate of legislation meant to address the opioid epidemic. ACS said, while the laws are intended to slow the misuse of opioid medication, they also made it harder for cancer patients and survivors to get the pain care they need.
“It is critical that state policy solutions do not impede access to pain relief for those who need it, such as people with cancer or chronic diseases,” the release states.
ACS estimates more than 1.7 million people in the United States will be newly diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and more than 500,000 will die from the disease this year alone. With the knowledge available today, roughly half of cancer deaths in the United States could be prevented. Research shows that achieving that goal requires stronger tobacco control laws, better access to cancer screening and treatments and policies that support proper nutrition and physical activity.