Reports Shows New Oklahoma Laws Are Improving Cancer Prevention

Friday, August 10th 2018, 10:22 pm
By: Ashley Izbicki

A new report shows recent laws passed in Oklahoma are raising our state's grades when it comes to preventing cancer.

The grades are kind of like a stoplight green for good, yellow for needs work, and red as failing. A new national report shows in two of the major categories Oklahoma zoomed from red to green because of key pieces of legislation.

"We were seeing young women, young girls, going to tan not one, not two, but five times a week. And that is a lot of exposure to harmful rays," said Paula Warlick of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.

Last November Oklahomans under the age of 18 were banned from using indoor tanning beds.

"We're hoping to see the melanoma rates decrease dramatically,” said Warlick.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network says the comprehensive indoor tanning law is putting Oklahoma ahead in the fight against skin cancer.

"Other states are looking at us and wanting to know, how did you do that?" said Warlick.

Also improving from red to green cigarette tax levels with the newly passed dollar-per-pack tax increase.

"What's interesting is we were the only state in the country this past year to have increased our cigarette tax, and one of only four since 2014,” said Warlick.

That's why our state is featured in the nationwide report as a 'Success Story.' But we still don't measure up when it comes to second-hand smoke.

"Some people think that we are smoke-free in our state, and we are not. Bars are not smoke-free, currently, and also some restaurants have separately ventilated smoking rooms,” said Warlick.

Oklahoma is failing at smoke-free laws and earned a yellow when it comes to tobacco prevention.

"There is still work to be done, now is not the time to rest. We've had a couple of years of really good momentum and we would like to keep that momentum going,” said Warlick.

Calls into our state's tobacco helpline are up since the cigarette tax passed so that could help push us from yellow to green. As for other red Oklahoma is failing in the category of increased access to Medicaid.