The report from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network uses nine key benchmark areas where states play a critical role in reducing cancer incidence and death. Jen Schulte, the organization’s director of government relations, says each state gets either a red mark for falling short, a yellow mark for making some progress or a green mark for doing well.
“We have a split between red, yellow and green,” Schulte says. “We have four red, two yellow and three green. As a result Iowa, continues to look at policies that are in red. We hope to continue to work on the indoor tanning ban for minors and increasing our tobacco prevention funding.”
While the Centers for Disease Control recommends Iowa spend $30 million a year on tobacco prevention efforts, Iowa only spends about 5-million. In the yellow category, Iowa is making some progress in areas like its cigarette tax rates and in Medicaid coverage of tobacco cessation programs.
Out of the nine benchmarks, Iowa only had three green ratings for areas where the state is doing well. “One is pain policy, two is the increased access to Medicaid or our Iowa Health and Wellness plan that we passed in 2013 and then finally, our Smoke-free Air Act,” Schulte says. However, she notes that act — which bars smoking in workplaces and public places statewide — still contains the loophole allowing people to smoke on casino floors, something the group would like to see abolished.
On this year’s report, only three states met six out of the nine benchmarks that were measured and no state met seven or more, so she says Iowa isn’t doing bad, comparatively. “I think we’re pretty level with a lot of the other states,” Schulte says. “Our bordering states, we’re very similar with the red categories but overall, I think we’re right in the middle.”
This is the 13th year for the report, called: “How Do You Measure Up? A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality.” See the full report for Iowa and any other state at the website of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network: www.acscan.org