American Cancer Society ranks Florida among worst in nation for prevention

State receives subpar scores in all 8 categories measured in new report

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida is among the worst in the nation when it comes to preventing cancer, receiving subpar scores in all eight categories measured in a new report by the American Cancer Society.

"One hundred thirty thousand people this year in Florida alone are going to be diagnosed with cancer," said Matt Jordan, with the ACS.

Jordan said tobacco policy hurt Florida the worst in the report.

“It's the main cause of cancer,” Jordan said. "We want to make sure that we're preventing people from using it, and those that are using it, we want to help them quit.”

Low taxes on cigarettes and subpar funding for tobacco prevention both earned the state poor grades.

“We gave around $70 (million) or $71 million this year. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that we spend about twice what we're spending right now,” Jordan said.

Poor tobacco policy may be a reflection of the old adage, "Money talks."

Tobacco companies contributed about $3 million to Florida politicians during the 2018 election cycle alone.

However, Laura Corbin, bureau chief for Tobacco Free Florida, said the agency has achieved success despite low funding, helping more than 212,000 Floridians kick the habit since its creation.

“And we've reduced youth rates by 75% since 2006,” Corbin said.

Florida’s rejection of Medicaid expansion, which could have provided health insurance to 850,000 people, also hurt the state’s score.

Jordan said expanding the program would go a long way toward improving cancer treatment and prevention.

“Sometimes, a lot of people that don't have insurance may not always have the incentive to go get screened,” said Jordan.

Another area on which Florida received a poor score in the report by the ACS was tanning bed policy. 

The state currently sets no restriction on how old you must be to use a tanning bed.

There are some signs of hope for Florida, though. 

Legislative pushes to raise the age to purchase tobacco to 21 have gained traction in recent years.

There’s also a proposed constitutional amendment to expand Medicaid, which has collected nearly 80,000 signatures.