On Wednesday, February 11, nearly 100 cancer patients, survivors and caregivers from across the state traveled to the state Capitol in Olympia for the annual American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Day. This year’s event was dedicated to meeting with Washington’s lawmakers about the need to restore funding for the state’s tobacco use prevention and education program. Advocates also voiced their opposition to an effort that would amend our state’s strong, comprehensive smoke-free law to allow the smoke back inside at cigar lounges and tobacconist shops across our state.
Senator Andy Hill with Joelle Fathi and District 36 Constituents
In Washington, 38,180 people are diagnosed with cancer every year and each year, 12,700 lose their battle with the disease. Tobacco is a significant contributor to these deaths with lung cancer being the leading tobacco-related cancer death. As a representative of Swedish Cancer Institute, it was my honor to speak at and share in this important day as a guest of ACS CAN. I was able to meet with Representatives Eric Pettigrew and Reuven Carlyle as well as Senator Andy Hill to discuss the opportunity we have to positively influence the health of our fellow Washington residents through tobacco control and adequate funding to treat those who are dependent on tobacco.
We gathered at the Capitol and called on Washington lawmakers to take necessary steps to make the fight against cancer a priority. Given this experience and the specific legislative issues on the table this session that involve tobacco and clean air, I am acutely aware of the influence lawmakers have on such critical decisions with hope that our visit made an impact.
As a health care provider and community member, I believe that we can all influence this fight against tobacco. We have the opportunity to control tobacco by helping those who are addicted to tobacco products to quit through support and guiding them to where they can get effective counseling and treatment. We can also impact tobacco use by preventing our youth and others from ever starting the habit through careful guidance and education. Additionally, we can protect others from the harmful exposure to second-hand smoke through promotion and protection of clean air laws and education.