Nearly 100 cancer patients, survivors and caregivers from across the state traveled to the State House last week to meet with Massachusetts lawmakers about the need to support regulations that would protect youth from the dangers of indoor tanning and electronic cigarettes.
In Massachusetts, an estimated 37,790 people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2015, and 12,710 will lose their battle with the disease. Those gathered at the State House called on Massachusetts lawmakers to change this by taking steps to make the fight against cancer a priority. The visit was part of the annual American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Lobby Day, which brought together cancer survivors and volunteers from across the Commonwealth, as well as elected officials and coalition partners.
Among those who visited the State House today was 35 year old Joshua Herting of Medford. Just over a year ago, Herting was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer and underwent surgery and extensive chemotherapy to fight the disease.
“March 25 of last year I was sitting in a chemotherapy infusion chair for the first of a dozen rounds of treatment,” said Herting. “I’m thankful that exactly a year later I am here advocating lawmakers to enact legislation that will prevent others from having to go through what I have gone through.” While at the State House, Herting met with Senator Pat Jehlen and Representative Paul Donato to share his story and discuss ACS CAN’s priority legislation.
“We met with our elected leaders today as representatives of the many Bay Staters who are diagnosed with cancer each day” said ACS CAN Government Relations Director Marc Hymovitz, “these advocates, survivors, caregivers and patients have gathered together today with one goal in mind: to pass legislation that will save lives.”
Specifically, the Massachusetts volunteers asked lawmakers to:
– Support House Bill 2050 and Senate Docket 1200, An Act modernizing tobacco control and protecting the health of minors, which would prohibit sales of e-cigarettes to minors and include e-cigarettes in the smoke-free workplace law
– Support Senate Docket 1565, An Act further regulating tanning facilities, which would protect minors under 18 from UV indoor tanning, thus decreasing the risk of deadly skin cancers such as melanoma.
“The widespread, unregulated use of e-cigarettes threatens the progress we’ve made reducing the number of smokers in this country. In this day and age, it remains legal in many communities for kids under 18 to purchase these addictive and dangerous products,” said Hymovitz. “While last year we celebrated 10 years of smoke free workplaces in Massachusetts, in many communities smokers can use e-cigarettes indoors, subjecting all of us to unknown dangers through second hand smoke.”
Among the advocates at the event was Meghan Rothschild, a melanoma survivor and spokesperson from the Melanoma Foundation of New England (MFNE), who is working in partnership with ACS CAN to protect Massachusetts youth from the dangers of indoor tanning. Diagnosed at age 20, Meghan attributes her melanoma to indoor tanning bed use, and she spoke on the dangers of tanning devices.
“My melanoma could be traced directly back to my indoor tanning use as a teen. We know tanning beds are just as carcinogenic as cigarettes and that any exposure to them before the age of 18 dramatically increases your risk of skin cancer. We need regulations in place that can protect teens and young adults from these cancer-causing devices,” said Rothschild.
Many of the 37,790 cancer diagnoses and 12,710 deaths in Massachusetts can be prevented. By adequately protecting our youth from the known risks of tanning devices, and by protecting clean indoor air through the inclusion of e-cigarettes in the smoke free workplace law, we can help ensure future generations are spared hearing those terrible three words, “you have cancer.”
- Submitted by American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network