The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network just released the 17th edition of “How Do You Measure Up?”. This report illustrates how each state stands on issues that play a critical role in reducing cancer incidence and death. A color-coded system classifies how well a state is doing in each issue. According to volunteer legislative ambassadors Lois Fitzpatrick, Montana did really well in some areas.

“In Montana, we have three greens, which is good,” Fitzpatrick said. “One is increased access to Medicaid. Of course, the Medicaid expansion bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Bullock this session. We also have access to palliative care in the green, which is so important to patients. We also had smoke-free laws in the green.”

Unfortunately, Montana measured up to policy recommendations in just three of the eight evaluated issue areas. Fitzpatrick says Montana is falling short when it comes to pain policy.

“As a cancer patient, I can tell you that a number of cancers are extremely painful,” Fitzpatrick said. “Without good pain control policy for cancer patients, we are not helping them with their quality of life and getting better.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data in February showing e-cigarette use among high schoolers jumped an alarming 78% in the last year. Policymakers have introduced 88 bills in hopes of raising the legal age of sale for tobacco to 21.

“This is very scary,” Fitzpatrick said. “Even the Surgeon General says this is an epidemic. We see more and more youth using e-cigarettes, vaping, and juuling. Those items are not safe and they are not regulated by the FDA. There is really no good data on what is going into those lungs.”

According to Montana Government Relations Director Kristin Page-Nei, 5,920 people will be diagnosed with cancer this year in Montana and 2,100 people will die from the devastating disease.