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Ohio's Policies Have Done Little To Prevent Cancer Deaths, Study Finds

smoking cigarette

Public policy in Ohio has failed to reduce cancer deaths, according to a report by the American Cancer Society released today. Of the nine goals set by the group, Ohio has met only three.

Every year, the American Cancer Society releases a report detailing state efforts to diagnose and prevent cancer deaths.

This year, Ohio fell short in six of the group's nine policy goals. It was rated especially low in its limited spending on tobacco control programs, and on breast and cervical cancer screening programs. Ohio also lacked restrictions on indoor tanning devices.

ACS's government relations director Jeff Stephens advocated for giving more attention to those areas and expanding access to health care.

"All these things add up to earlier detections of cancer, preventions of cancer," Stephens says, "which in the end, reduce cost and burdens to our health care system."

Stephens says 30 percent of cancer-related deaths in the state are caused by tobacco.

"Ohio is one of only two states that have not increased their price on other tobacco products for over 25 years," Stephens said in an interview with WKSU. "This makes these products more available to our youth, when they’re most vulnerable to initiating a lifetime of addiction to tobacco products."

Stephens said that although Governor Kasich has introduced legislation to limit tobacco use, that funding has failed to materialize in the state's budget. 

"We've really missed some opportunities in the last few years, particularly around the last two biennial budgets, in advancing some policies that would really make an impact on the use of tobacco in Ohio," Stephens says.

According to the report, Ohio's three bright spots were its smoke-free laws and Medicaid coverage and access.