Hawaiʻi's American Cancer Society meets at the state Capitol to lobby prevention bills
Members of Hawaiʻi's chapter of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network gathered at the state's capitol last week to lobby for bills that they hope will save lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer continues to be the second leading cause of death in Hawaiʻi. It is also estimated that there could be 8,460 new cases and over 2,620 cancer-related deaths this year.
However, the ACS CAN is working to decrease those numbers through the power of legislation.
Senate Bill 1447 would allow the counties to regulate the sale of cigarettes and vapes — if the local laws are more stringent than state laws. The purpose of this bill is to give county governments the authority to set tobacco regulations that they feel are fit for their local community.
Throughout the session, there have been mixed reactions to SB 1447. With over 80 pages of written testimony in its most recent draft, the bill continues to see some opposition from local vape and tobacco stores.
"While I appreciate the intent behind this bill to give counties more control over regulating tobacco products, I believe that it is misguided," wrote John Foronda of HI Five Ohm Vape Co. in his written testimony.
"Allowing each county to set its own regulations will result in a patchwork of inconsistent and potentially conflicting rules, making it difficult for businesses to operate and for consumers to understand what is and isn't allowed," he continued.
However, public health organizations such as the ACS CAN continue to urge for regulation.
"The right of local governments to pass public health policies stronger than state laws must be preserved to continue future advocacy efforts to reduce suffering and death from cancer," ACS CAN stated in testimony.
The nonprofit is also vouching for House Bill 907, to reimburse audio-only telehealth appointments.
The bill explains how standard phone calls do not currently fall under the legal definition of telehealth, but HB 907 would change that. The measure aims to help residents with limited access to broadband and those who may not know how to operate video calls.
HB 1301 was also being pushed by ACS CAN on Friday, which would fund multiethnic cancer research.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Cory Chun of Oʻahu and would allocate funds to study the lifestyle and external factors that cause cancer in Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and Filipino communities.
"Where you live, your access to healthcare insurance, how far you live from your doctor's office — those all play an important factor in folks who have a higher tendency of cancer," Chun said.
"So if we can identify those and see where we can actually make a bigger impact by addressing those issues, we could probably prevent a lot more cancer."