Cancer-fighting public policies get mixed reviews in NJ
New Jersey still has some work to do when it comes to supporting policies and passing legislation to prevent and reduce suffering and death from cancer.
According to a new report by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network entitled "How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality," the Garden State measured up to policy recommendations in just four of the nine areas that were ranked.
According to the report, 25 states, including New Jersey, are making progress and 25 states are falling short when it comes to progress in cancer-fighting policies.
"Overall, New Jersey is a national leader when it comes to cancer screening, but is dead last in tobacco prevention and cessation program funding. While receiving more than $700 million annually in tobacco revenue, the state of New Jersey is the only state in the nation that spends zero dollars on such programs," said Ethan Hasbrouck, director of government relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
The state scored well when it comes to Medicaid expansion, cancer screening, tobacco tax rates and smoke-free laws, but could improve its pain policy, palliative care, indoor tanning bed restrictions and medicaid coverage of cessation services. New Jersey failed for its lack of tobacco prevention and cessation program funding.
A color-coded system classified how well a state is doing in each issue. Green shows the state has adopted evidence-based policies and best practices, yellow indicates moderate movement toward the benchmark and red shows where states are falling short. The following is how New Jersey measures up:
- Cigarette Tax Rates: Green;
- Smoke-free Laws: Green;
- Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding: No Funding;
- Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services: Yellow;
- Indoor Tanning Device Restrictions: Yellow;
- Increased Access to Medicaid: Green;
- Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Funding: Green;
- Access to Palliative Care: Yellow; and
- Pain Policy: Yellow.
There are two areas where the Garden State can improve immediately when the legislature reconvenes in the fall, according to Hasbrouck.
"There is legislation that's been introduced that would dedicate five percent of the total revenue from the state cigarette tax to anti-smoking programs. Based on current projections of this revenue, it would prove $30 to $33 million for anti-smoking programs," he said. "Another measure would improve the quality of life for those suffering from cancer by increasing access to palliative care."
According to the American Cancer Society, one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. In New Jersey in 2015, more than 51,400 people will be diagnosed with the disease and 16,200 will die as a result.