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NH wins kudos for cancer policies from American Cancer Society

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 12. 2018 9:01PM

Cancer Action Network Rankings:

New Hampshire is making progress when it comes to preventing or reducing suffering and death from cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, which gave the state its highest grade in five of the nine categories it uses to evaluate the 50 states.

The Granite State drew particularly strong praise for its approach to regulating the use of opioids in pain management for cancer patients.

According to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the state ranks highly in access to Medicaid and palliative care, has appropriate levels of cigarette taxes, good pain management policies, and effective restrictions on indoor tanning.

The ACS says the state is making good progress on creating smoke-free environments and in Medicaid coverage for programs that help people quit smoking.

New Hampshire received a low rating for its funding of early detection programs for breast and cervical cancer and the lowest possible rating for tobacco use prevention.

The data comes from the latest edition of How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality,” issued annually by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

“This 16th edition of the report shows we are incredibly strong in certain areas of cancer-fighting public policy, but have a lot of work to do in other areas,” said Mike Rollo, director of government relations for ACS Cancer Action Network in New Hampshire.

The rankings for the state are identical to the rankings in the 2017 report, with one exception. The state moved up one step in the ranking for pain policy, going from yellow (which indicates progress) to green (which means the state has adopted polices recommended by the American Cancer Society).

“The change comes from a combination of how metrics are measured, and legislation that passed previously, but was not in place by the time we did the ratings in 2017,” said Rollo.

New state laws on prescription monitoring and dispensing practices take into account the special needs of cancer patients to access pain medications, Rollo pointed out.

“Limiting the amounts of those prescriptions would be potentially harmful for cancer patients, and lawmakers saw the need to ensure that didn’t happen,” he said.

This year, New Hampshire was among only four states in the nation that received a top ranking for balanced pain policy.

“Many cancer patients and survivors need pain medication to live and complete even the most basic day-to-day tasks, but across the country the wave of state legislation meant to address opioid abuse has had unintended consequences, making it harder for people with cancer or chronic diseases to access legitimate pain care,” said Rollo.

“I am proud to say that as New Hampshire lawmakers have worked to address the opioid epidemic, they have rejected policies that compromise access to appropriate pain management. Our state leaders continue to protect the needs of cancer patients and survivors who deal with pain every day and have worked hard to earn this well-deserved top grade in the Pain Report Card.”

In contrast to the state’s strong score in pain policy, New Hampshire got the lowest possible ACS grade for funding tobacco control programs, as it did last year.

“The state is among only six in the nation that have allocated zero dollars toward this life-saving program,” said Rollo. “This is compared to the Centers for Disease Control recommendation that the state invest $16.5 million in the program.”


To view the complete report and details on New Hampshire’s grades, visit

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