Pa., N.J. and Del. could be doing more to prevent and better treat cancer

    (phatscrote / BigStock)

    (phatscrote / BigStock)

    Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware are not doing everything they can to prevent cancer says a new report from the American Cancer Society that evaluates legislative efforts to curb and treat it more effectively. 

    According to the report, all three states need to work on their tobacco control programs. Delaware spends about 50 percent of what the Centers for Disease Control recommends for stop-smoking programs, and Pennsylvania about ten percent. New Jersey’s spending is even lower than that.

     

    “New Jersey is the only state in the country that spends zero state dollars on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. It doesn’t mean the state isn’t doing anything, they do receive money from the CDC to do specific activities. However, there’s a lot more the state could be doing,” said Ethan Hasbrouck, with the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN) in New Jersey.

    The states scored better in other areas.

    “I think Pennsylvania took an important step forward by increasing tobacco taxes, most notably the cigarette tax by $1,” said Dianne Phillips, director of government relations for ACSCAN. “But they also added a tax on smokeless tobacco products and electronic cigarettes for the first time. All of those products contain nicotine and are highly addictive.”

    All three met benchmarks for expanding Medicaid, which can cover tobacco cessation treatments and care for poor people.  They also passed laws mandating that patient’s share of payment for oral chemotherapy is comparable to injectable drugs, so they’re not forced for money reasons to compromise their care.

    Other areas of potential improvement include access to palliative care for patients, more restrictions on indoor tanning for minors, and improvements to pain management policies for patients.

    The report looks at four main issues; cancer prevention, helping people quit smoking, access to affordable quality healthcare, and quality of life for patients.

    The idea is to give states a legislative blueprint for better policies.

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