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Health & Medicine

American Cancer Society Says There Is Room For Improvement in New York's Smoking Prevention Programs

American Cancer Society

New York measures up pretty favorably against other states when it comes to a number of measures to treat and prevent cancer.  But WAER’s Chris Bolt reports there’s room to improve in one area that’s one of the disease’s biggest killers – stopping tobacco use.

The American Cancer Society measured nine areas of prevention and treatment through its Cancer Action Network.  Spokesperson Julie Hart says, for one, the state tops most others in access to care.

“…which is really important to cancer patients.  They need to have adequate care, comprehensive coverage at affordable rates.  So do we expand Medicaid?  New York State does do that.  We also have a really good cancer services program, breast and cervical cancer screenings for those who don’t otherwise have coverage.”

New York also received “Green Lights” in the report for other areas, such as smoke-free laws.

“We’ve had smoke-free worksites for a number of years and a lot of states are still working on this.  So we’re really ahead of the curve there.  And we’re also really excited because we did get a green (light) when it comes to restricting indoor tanning device use by those under 18.”

The biggest lack identified by the report is the amount of money put into smoking prevention and cessation programs … something Hart says would pay big health dividends.

“We know based upon research and from the CDC and from independent reports, that funding for the tobacco control programs works to help smokers quit and also to keep kids from picking up this addiction, to keep them from picking up their first tobacco product in the first place, which is the ideal.  Unfortunately, this is a little bit of a recurring theme.” 

Centers for Disease Control suggestions say the state should spend upwards of 200-million dollars on such programs … when the budget is only 39 million – barely 20-percent. 

“We also do know that there are some hard-to-reach populations, some low-income, low-education, Medicaid recipients, those that report poor mental health.  There’s still some disparities among vulnerable populations and that’s where we need to invest more money and more time.”