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American Cancer Society: Michigan needs to spend more to fight tobacco-related cancers

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A report by the American Cancer Society says Michigan is falling short when it comes to reducing tobacco use. In its 16th annual edition of How Do You Measure Up? A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality, ACS rated states based on efforts to prevent cancer by a number of criteria. Michigan’s marks were particularly low for tobacco use prevention.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends about $110 million in tobacco prevention a year. Michigan spends $1.6 million. That's not even enough to fully fund the state's hotline for people who want to quit tobacco.

Andrew Schepers is with the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. He says investment in prevention can save the state a lot of money in the long term. “So if we were to raise the cigarette tax $1.50 or if you were even able to provide a little more prevention funding to do that, we know the state will save $2.95 billion in long term health care savings,” says Schepers.

His group is asking the legislature to provide $100,000 in additional funding to keep the tobacco hotline operational.

Twenty-nine point eight percent of all cancer deaths in Michigan are related to tobacco, at a cost of $4.59 billion per year for health care, according to the ACS.

Overall, the report rated Michigan as making progress -- a bar achieved by about half of the states. Michigan received good scores in the report for its cigarette taxes, smoke-free spaces, and expanding Medicaid.

However, it was found to have fallen short in other areas, in addition to inadequate tobacco prevention funding. It got low marks for breast and cervical cancer screening programs, palliative care, cancer pain control, and failing to regulate indoor tanning by minors.