Lung cancer deaths are estimated to outnumber prostate, breast, and colorectal cancer deaths in Massachusetts this year, combined. One of the major risk factors for lung cancer is tobacco use. Deaths due to tobacco use are some of the most preventable deaths, and amount to almost one in five deaths in the United States. Due to the age of sale for tobacco being 18, Big Tobacco can target younger generations, resulting in early addiction that is difficult to break.
In the state of Massachusetts, 28,100 high school students smoke, and every year, 2,500 more join those ranks. If this trend continues, smoking will be responsible for the deaths of 103,000 of kids under 18 in Massachusetts.
But we can do something about it.
Last week, I joined the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) at the State House to meet with legislators in support of legislation that would restrict youth access to tobacco statewide by raising the age of sale to 21. This bill would also prohibit the use of e-cigarettes everywhere that is already covered by the smoke-free workplace law and prohibit the sale of tobacco in pharmacies and other healthcare providers.
My job as a cancer researcher involves discovering new ways to combat this deadly disease. But tobacco-related deaths are 100 percent preventable, and the billions of dollars in healthcare costs accrued due to tobacco could be used for other purposes. Not to mention the lives that could be saved.
By supporting this bill, we and our legislators could make a tangible difference.
Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)