Cancer patients, survivors and their families from throughout California gathered at the Capitol recently. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s (ACS CAN) annual Cancer Awareness Day at the Capitol assembled a large cadre of cancer advocates who urged lawmakers to make fighting cancer a priority.

Nearly 150 ACS CAN volunteers gathered at the Capitol to meet with their legislators about why it is important that elected officials do all they can in the fight against cancer. These volunteers touched by cancer came together to call on the California Legislature to listen to their stories, hear their voices and act on public health policies that will put an end to cancer as we know it.

This year, cancer patients and survivors will also celebrate their successful efforts last year to not only get a historic package of tobacco control bills signed into law, but also convince voters to overwhelmingly approve a $2 tobacco tax increase. The tax increase on cigarettes and other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes for the first time in California, took effect over the weekend (Saturday, April 1). It is projected to reduce youth smoking rates by least 23 percent as well as motivate some 265,000 adult smokers to quit.

This year, an estimated 176,000 people in California will be diagnosed with cancer and, unfortunately, nearly 60,000 in the state are expected to die from the devastating disease. As many as 30 percent of all cancers are tobacco-related.

Cancer advocates asked their legislators to support the following bills this session:

Give chronically ill patients easier access to palliative care– Senate Bill 294 would update current law to allow hospice agencies to provide palliative care services to patients who are not on hospice. Palliative care is specialized medical care to provide relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness, such as cancer, at all stages from diagnosis through survivorship.

Expand sunset date for voluntary tax check-offs for CA Cancer Research Fund and CA Breast Cancer Research Fund – Senate Bill 440 would allow taxpayers to continue voluntary donations when filing state income taxes. Both funds are part of the largest state-funded cancer research efforts in the country.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit

Submitted by Laura LaRose