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How does Arizona measure up in fighting, preventing cancer?

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PHOENIX — A recent report from the American Cancer Society found that Arizona was doing better than the national average in several categories for fighting and preventing cancer, but still struggled to keep up in other areas.

The report, titled “How Do You Measure Up?” found that Arizona did well in two categories for access to care — increased access to Medicaid and early detection for breast and cervical cancer — and two categories for prevention — the cigarette tax rates and smoke-free laws.

But the same report found that Arizona was falling short in two categories: Access to palliative care and restrictions on indoor tanning devices.

“[The report] certainly highlights that Arizona has made some real good progress in fighting cancer, but its time for us to do more,” Brian Hummell with the American Cancer Society told KTAR News 92.3 FM. 

Hummell said cancer is still the second-leading cause of death in Arizona, with about 12,000 people in Arizona dying from the disease each year.

“We have policies that could be put in place to cut those numbers significantly,” he added.

Those policies include raising the tobacco tax by as much as $1.50 per pack, despite the fact that Arizona ranked well in the cigarette tax rates category.

“We know the biggest preventable cause of cancer is tobacco use,” Hummell said. “The most effective way to get people to quit is to raise the price.”

Hummell said the group is going to move to push that through the upcoming Legislative session.

“It’s been almost 12 years since the tobacco tax was increased in Arizona,” he said, adding that at the time, Arizona was among the top states in the nation for high tobacco taxes. Now the state is tied for No. 16.

“We would like to increase the tax, which we know has an incredible effect to encourage people to quit and prevents people, especially young people, from starting in the first place.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report. 

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