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Oklahoma Legislature isn't doing enough to fight cancer, report says

The American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network released a report Thursday that alleges Oklahoma is lagging behind in legislative work to combat cancer.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: August 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm •  Published: August 19, 2013

Michelle Brown remembers the sound that day of a bell ringing.

It was a cancer patient, ringing a bell at a Tulsa hospital, signifying that she was finished with treatment.

Brown has experienced a lot of moments like this.

The Henryetta resident is an advocate with the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network, an organization that released a report Thursday that alleges Oklahoma is lagging behind in legislative work to combat cancer.

Brown doesn't charge Oklahoma with being the worst state — she has seen improvements — but the state still has what she believes are its pitfalls.

“I have seen great improvement in the research that is continuing to grow and develop, but things change, and our health landscape changes, too, so there needs to be continued funding for research,” she said.

The American Cancer Society network's report ranks states on their legislative activity to reduce cancer rates and deaths.

The report uses green, yellow and red to signify how states are doing in each category, with green being the best and red being the worst. Oklahoma did not have any green categories listed.

For example, Oklahoma ranks in the middle range of states for its cigarette excise tax rate, which is $1.03. States with higher rankings include several in the New England region, which have rates ranging from $1.60 in Delaware to $4.35 in New York.

Meanwhile, most states, including Oklahoma, are ranked low for either not increasing the tax over the past six years, or increasing it less than 50 cents.

Tobacco prevention

State tobacco prevention spending is another area where Oklahoma isn't among the bottom states. Oklahoma spends $19.7 million, according to the report. The study uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for state tobacco prevention spending to rank states. For example, the CDC recommends Oklahoma spend $45 million.

Oklahoma joins several other states in the South, including Mississippi, West Virginia and Louisiana, that don't have “100 percent smoke-free” state laws. These are the same states that often rank worst in the nation in rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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