New Report: Hawaii Gets Mixed Reviews on Policies to Prevent and Fight Cancer
State meets half of report’s benchmarks; advocates push for action on issues like increased PE
News Release from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
HONOLULU, HI – August 21, 2014 – Hawaii is making progress when it comes to passing policies to prevent and reduce suffering and death from cancer, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).
How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality evaluates each state’s activity on issues crucial to winning the fight against cancer. The report by ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, finds that Hawaii measured up to benchmarks in six of the 12 measured areas.
“State legislators have the opportunity to pass laws and policies that have been proven to help people fight cancer by emphasizing prevention, making affordable, quality health care accessible, curbing tobacco use and prioritizing quality of life for patients and their families,” said Cory Chun, Hawaii government relations director for ACS CAN. “I applaud state legislators for taking action on several of the report’s measured areas especially legislation passed this year restricting tanning bed use for minors. We hope our state lawmakers will continue to pass proven policies that will save lives.”
While Hawaii has made progress in some areas, additional work remains, especially in the area of physical activity and nutrition. It’s estimated as much as one third of all cancer deaths are linked to obesity, physical inactivity and poor diet. The number of overweight children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 19 has nearly tripled since 40 years ago.
The report recommends beginning to tackle that problem, in part, by improving physical education standards in schools. ACS CAN recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of daily physical education for elementary students and 45 minutes for middle and highs school students. Half of that time should be spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity.
“Kids are in school at least eight hours a day making schools a natural place to address the alarming problem of childhood obesity and provide all children with skills that will carry through beyond the classroom and keep them active for life,” said Chun. “By helping kids form healthy habits we can reduce the number of cancer diagnoses and deaths in Hawaii.”
Currently, Hawaii requires that physical education must be taught in grades K-6, but there is no course requirement. There are no physical education requirements for middle school students, while one credit in a physical education course must be completed for a high school student to graduate. The minutes of instruction required for physical education classes are 45-55 minutes per week at elementary schools for grades K-5, 106 minutes for grade 6 and 200 minutes per week for all secondary grades (7-12).
“We know we can prevent cancers due to poor nutrition, physical activity and excess weight,” said Chun. “If we don’t take action now, we risk losing the progress we’ve made reducing cancer incidence and death. More importantly, we risk losing an entire generation to premature death from chronic disease.”
How Do You Measure Up? grades states on 12 policy areas: breast and cervical cancer early detection program funding; tanning device restrictions for minors; physical education time requirements; smoke-free laws; tobacco prevention program funding; tobacco tax rates and increases over time; access to tobacco cessation services in Medicaid; increased access to Medicaid; policies to prevent and treat pain; access to palliative care and restrictions on tobacco ratings, or charging tobacco users up to 50 percent higher premiums for health coverage.
A color-coded system classifies how well a state is doing in each issue. Green shows that a state has adopted evidence-based policies and best practices; yellow indicates moderate movement toward the benchmark and red shows where states are falling short.
How Hawaii Measures Up:
- Smoke-Free Law: GREEN
- Tobacco Tax Increase: GREEN
- Tobacco Tax Rates: GREEN
- Tobacco Prevention Funding: GREEN
- Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation: RED
- Indoor Tanning Device Restrictions for Minors: GREEN
- Physical Education Time Requirements: RED
- Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Funding: NO FUNDING
- Effective Pain Policy: YELLOW
- Access to Palliative Care: YELLOW
- Increased Access to Medicaid: GREEN
- Restrictions on Tobacco Rating: RED
Nationally, the report finds that only one state is measuring up, meaning the state is meeting the benchmark in nine or more legislative priority areas measured. Forty states land in the falling behind category, meeting benchmarks in just four or fewer of the measured issues. Just 10 states fall in the middle category meeting benchmarks in five to nine issue areas.
In 2014, it is estimated that more than 1.6 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer and more than 580,000 people will die from the disease. In Hawaii this year, an estimated 6,640 will be diagnosed with cancer and another 2,450 will die of the disease.
To view the complete report and details on Hawaii’s grades, visit www.acscan.org.
ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.
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