Healthy Victories for Illinois
Wins in Springfield and Chicago address cancer risks for all, especially our youth
The $1-per-pack cigarette tax signed by Governor Quinn in June 2012 will prevent some 77,000 young people from smoking and prompt an additional 60,000 adults to quit.
The measure will do more than raise funds for the state – it will save lives. Since tobacco use is linked with 30% of all cancer fatalities nationwide, including 87% of all lives lost to lung cancer, taking aim at smoking remains one of our key cancer prevention goals.
A long time coming
The tobacco tax results from 3 years of tireless work among cancer advocates, says Ann Wheet, state volunteer lead for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).
“Throughout it all, we’ve followed a simple rule: don’t give up!” Ann says. Volunteers kept the issue in play through local news and social media, meeting with lawmakers to stress the tax’s lifesaving potential.
“We urged legislators to focus on the health benefits, especially for young people,” Ann notes. “Every 10 percent increase in the cost of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by 7 percent. That’s a change worth fighting for.”
Chicago tan ban protects teens
In another big win, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance banning those under age 18 from using tanning beds in city salons, the first regulation of its kind in any major U.S. city.
The measure provides vital protection for young people, since tanning beds deliver 10 to 15 times the UV radiation of natural sunlight, boosting users’ risks of developing deadly melanoma by at least 75%.
Dr. June Robinson, a leading researcher at Northwestern University and past president of the American Cancer Society’s Board of Directors in Illinois, spoke in favor of the ban, which was championed by 50th Ward Alderman Debra Silverstein.
“The Centers for Disease Control and leading medical experts agree that indoor tanning kills,” noted Ald. Silverstein in remarks to the city council. “It’s a growing epidemic (especially) among young women we must actively work to turn back.”
Skin cancer survivors also testified before the council, including one young woman who visited tanning salons weekly starting at age 15. By her early 20s, she had undergone surgery to treat melanoma.
ACS CAN members support legislation to ban all Illinois teens from tanning indoors. A bill sponsored by House Representative Roblyn Gabel (D-Evanston) may come up for a vote as early as November, Ann Wheet reports. Learn more about this and other cancer-fighting initiatives at acscan.org.
FROM ADVOCATE TO LAWMAKER: Meet Marcus C. Evans, Jr.
Cancer patients shouldn’t struggle to find the quality care they need to survive, says Illinois legislator Marcus Evans.
Misdiagnosed with asthma in his late teens – an error he blames on his family’s lack of insurance and the inadequate care he received as a result – Marcus is grateful for the tests that finally revealed a life-threatening tumor in his esophagus.
Following successful treatment for lymphoma, he became a passionate advocate with the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). This April, at age 27 he became one of the youngest members of the Illinois legislature when he was named to replace House Rep. Marlow Colvin (D-Chicago).
“As an activist I dreamed of being a legislator someday, but I didn’t believe it would happen this soon!” says Marcus. “Now I’m working with colleagues to develop a cancer caucus that will focus lawmakers’ attention on measures that support the cancer fight.”