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Court to hear arguments in case to compel FDA to ban menthol cigarettes

Decades long targeting of African Americans has led to tobacco addiction and deadly health consequences.

The U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California will hear oral arguments Thursday in a lawsuit brought by the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), and the American Medical Association (AMA), claiming that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) failure to ban menthol cigarettes violates federal law and that continued delay is projected to result in an estimated 4,700 premature deaths in the African American community.

The plaintiffs' case argues that FDA is in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act for unreasonably delaying action required by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 after the agency compiled extensive scientific data showing that menthol poses a public health risk beyond that of regular cigarettes. 

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) filed an amicus brief in the case, supporting public health groups' lawsuit against FDA in order to force FDA to ban menthol flavor in combustible cigarettes following years of delay.

Below is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, ACS CAN president.

“The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) has been urging FDA to prohibit menthol, including in cigarettes, in our call for a total flavor prohibition in all tobacco products for years. The agency’s inaction puts tobacco industry profits over public health by leaving a product on the market that entices youth to start and encourages adults to continue using menthol tobacco products that can result in disease and death. ACS CAN strongly supports AATCLC, ASH and AMA in their lawsuit against FDA on this issue. 

“Big Tobacco has used menthol cigarettes to deliberately and aggressively target African Americans, youth, LGBTQ communities and low-income communities for decades. This targeting has resulted in African Americans consistently reporting the highest prevalence of menthol cigarette use. It is well documented that menthol in cigarettes increases smoking initiation, decreases successful quitting and leads to greater addiction. Failing to address menthol flavoring in tobacco is failing to address a serious health inequity in our country.

“Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death and the leading contributor to lung cancer. Taking action to prohibit menthol would help address health disparities in tobacco-related disease and save lives. 

“In the vacuum created by FDA, some cities and states across the country have made progress in ending Big Tobacco’s targeting of children by ending the sale of all flavored tobacco, including menthol cigarettes which target African Americans. However, FDA has the power and obligation to make this change swiftly to promote public health through effective tobacco control nationwide; simply saying they will do so without demonstrative action or deadlines is not the same as actually prohibiting these cigarettes. We stand with AATCLC, ASH and AMA in their call for the agency to stop the tobacco industry’s shameless targeting of African Americans with menthol products, including cigarettes.”

  • Black lawmakers promote prostate cancer awareness

    In addition, the CBC's ‘Grow It Out’ campaign will raise funds for ACS.

    The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) recently unveiled a campaign in partnership with the American Cancer Society to raise awareness for prostate cancer – the most common cancer among Black men. 

    During the ‘Grow It Out’ campaign, the men of the CBC will pledge to raise awareness by not shaving for the month and donating the money they would have spent on shaving and shaving supplies to ACS through the Raise Your Way platform.

    These members will be pledging their support to raise awareness through a series of videos and social media posts that will be released by the CBC throughout the month of November. In addition to the CBC promoting the campaign on its social media channels, ACS and ACS CAN will be amplifying the campaign on its social media channels. 

    The CBC,  the largest diverse bicameral voting bloc in the U.S. Congress, has identified four co-chairs of this effort – Reps. Steven Horsford (D-NV), Jamal Bowman (D-NY), Al Green (D-TX), and Troy Carter (D-LA). 

    U.S. House of Representatives Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD), Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX) and CBC Chair Joyce Beatty (D-OH) have all expressed their support. 

    For more information on the Grow It Out campaign, please view the press release issued by the CBC, which includes this quote from American Cancer Society and ACS CAN CEO Dr. Karen E. Knudsen:

    "Prostate cancer death rates in Black men are double those of every other racial/ethnic group, and those higher incidence and mortality rates are exceptionally concerning. Black men should consult their provider to make an informed decision about designing the screening plan that is right for them, which should include consideration of family history and any known genetic risk of cancer, Additional research, including clinical trials on the risk, screening, diagnosis, and treatment of prostate cancer must be more inclusive of Black men to reduce these disparities. We are grateful to the Congressional Black Caucus for shining a light on this important issue and raising funds for the American Cancer Society so critical work to address disparities in the Black community can continue."

  • Cancer patients urge Congress to include critical health provisions in reconciliation package

    As Congress prepares to consider the Build Back Better Act, cancer patients, survivors, and their caregivers are urging lawmakers to make sure certain key health provisions are included in any final legislation. Those provisions include:

    • Closing the Medicaid coverage gap in the 12 states that have yet to expand Medicaid eligibility
    • Extending the increased subsidies for purchasing health coverage on the marketplace
    • Capping Medicare enrollees' prescription drug costs while smoothing expenses for beneficiaries
    • Creating a paid family and medical leave program for patients and caregivers
    • Increasing the tax on cigarettes and ensuring tax parity on other tobacco products including e-cigarettes

    “Research has shown without question that access to comprehensive health coverage is essential to saving lives from cancer,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “For the millions of people who live in states that have not yet expanded Medicaid and for those who have been finally able to afford coverage thanks to the increased subsidies available on the exchange, these policies would mean the difference between preventing, finding, and treating cancer early—when it’s most survivable—or much later when it may be too late.”

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that 7.6 million people would gain health coverage under the House version of the Build Back Better Act either through Medicaid or through the ACA marketplaces, and nearly 4 million uninsured people would gain coverage. For cancer patients enrolled in Medicare, the unlimited cost sharing for prescription drugs can render their care unaffordable. Capping the costs and allowing them to space out prescription co-payments throughout the year, rather than upfront, would enable these patients to better plan their finances.

    Paid family and medical leave would also alleviate the often-crushing choice between managing a loved one’s health and maintaining financial solvency.

    Increasing the tax on tobacco products remains the most effective public health tool to reduce tobacco use—the number one preventable cause of cancer.

    “The policies before Congress right now are among the most consequential for cancer patients in more than a decade,” said Lisa. “We need our lawmakers to keep the more than 1.9 million Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year and the nearly 17 million American survivors top of mind as they move ahead with this legislation. Cancer patients deserve access to care and to quality support programs to make surviving this disease as manageable as possible.”

  • ACS CAN launches first phase of Spanish transcreated website

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) recently launched the first phase of its Spanish transcreated* website.

    The ACS CAN Advocacy Communications team led an intensive effort to develop the transcreated website, which was recommended during ACS CAN’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy planning process as one of several critical ways to support more robust advocacy engagement with Hispanic and Latinx communities. ACS CAN worked with a vendor to determine strategy for an appropriate and authentic level of transcreation.  

    The website can be accessed by visiting and (Together Against Cancer).

    The Spanish transcreated website includes content from high-impact campaigns that was identified as of the greatest interest to Hispanic adults, in addition to key content from states with the highest Hispanic populations. 

    Additional areas of the website related to access to care, tobacco control, and colorectal cancer will be transcreated in the coming months. It is important to note that the website is just one tactic ACS CAN is developing and enhancing to help support the organization’s DEI efforts. 

    Please share the Spanish transcreated website with current and prospective colleagues and volunteers. If you have questions or feedback, please contact Trista Hargrove

    *NOTE: While translation focuses on replacing the words in one language with corresponding words in a new language, transcreation services are focused on conveying the same message and concept in a new language so that it better resonates with that culture.

  • Groups urge Congress to preserve paid family and medical leave

    ​Patients likely to need paid family and medical leave are the ones least likely to have it

    More than 20 patient and health care groups sent a letter to Congressional leadership and the Administration today making clear the need to preserve the nation’s first-ever paid family and medical leave program as part of forthcoming reconciliation legislation. 

    The groups, which include the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the American Heart Association, the Epilepsy Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, UsAgainstAlzheimer's, and others, set forth the urgent need millions of Americans have to access paid time away from work when undergoing medical treatment or caring for a loved one who is ill. 

    The letter implores lawmakers to provide this necessary paid time off to the thousands of patients who are diagnosed with a serious condition every day that forces them and their families to try and balance, work, treatment, and finances. 

    “While you are negotiating budget targets in the billions, we ask you to remember the working patients and caregivers who are struggling to balance their own budgets as they get treatment or recover from their illness, or give care to loved ones, and try to still earn a paycheck,” the letter states. 

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than a quarter of private-sector workers have paid family leave through their jobs – leaving more than 88 million workers without paid family leave to care for a loved one. Only 42% of workers have access to personal medical leave through an employer-provided short-term disability insurance policy, and fewer than 60% of workers qualify for job-protected, unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Workers of color, low-wage workers, and single parents are disproportionately excluded from leave options, despite also being disproportionately diagnosed with serious illnesses – meaning the very patients who are more likely to need paid family and medical leave are the ones least likely to have access to it.  

    “Our organizations have long fought to ensure that patients have access to care to treat their serious illnesses and health conditions. Being able to take time off work is fundamentally an access to care issue, and our current patchwork system of paid and unpaid leave forces some patients and caregivers to choose between treating their illness and keeping their job or having enough income to survive – while also exacerbating health inequities,” states the letter. 

    Last month a House committee approved legislation as part of the reconciliation process that would create a national paid family and medical leave program. However, as negotiations continue between the House, Senate, and White House, lawmakers are weighing the possibility of cuts as a means to reduce the bill’s overall cost. The letter urges lawmakers to ensure paid leave is included in the final package.

    “Providing millions of Americans the support they deserve to get treatment or care for someone going through a major health issue, like cancer, is not something we can delay,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “Families have struggled for far too long to be told their wellbeing will have to wait yet again. We urge Congress to do what’s right and preserve comprehensive paid family and medical leave for Americans in their final reconciliation package.”  

    Read the full letter.

    Full list of patient groups and partners that signed the letter: Alliance for Aging Research, ALS Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, Association of Oncology Social Work, Cancer Support Community, Child Neurology Foundation, COVID Survivors for Change, Epilepsy Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation West Virginia, Friends of Cancer Research, Hemophilia Federation of America, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Alliance for Caregiving, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, National Organization for Rare Disorders, National Patient Advocate Foundation, Susan G. Komen, Triage Cancer, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, WomenHeart—The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.

  • FDA authorizes first e-cigarette product

    Says benefits in helping smokers quit outweighs risk to youth

    On Oct. 12, for the first time ever, the Food and Drug Administration authorized an electronic cigarette to be sold in the U.S., saying it believes the help the vaping device provides to smokers who want to quit combustible cigarettes outweighs the risk of hooking a new generation of smokers.

    The agency approved Vuse’s Solo Power Unit e-cigarette and two tobacco-flavored replacement cartridges marketed by R.J. Reynolds, while denying applications for 10 flavored Vuse e-cigarettes. 

    “The authorized products’ aerosols are significantly less toxic than combusted cigarettes based on available data,” the FDA said in a statement announcing the decision. The statement concluded, “The FDA determined that the potential benefit to smokers who switch completely or significantly reduce their cigarette use, would outweigh the risk to youth.”

    The approved replacement cartridges each have around 5% nicotine. That is three times the nicotine concentration legally permitted in many countries. In its announcement, the FDA noted that it was aware of the heavy use of Vuse products by youth, but that it was approving “tobacco flavors,” which are less appealing to teenagers.

    Hundreds of more applications are pending, and it's possible the decision could open the door for other electronic cigarettes to stay on the market. For more than a year, the manufacturers of e-cigarettes have been in a holding pattern — most of their products on the market but awaiting official authorization — as the FDA investigated whether they were a benefit or a danger to public health. As part of its review, the agency earlier ordered thousands of vaping products off the market, including a brand that has surpassed Juul as a favorite among teenagers for their fruity and candy flavors, Puff Bars. 

    A statement from American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) CEO Karen E. Knudsen, MBA, PhD, follows:

    “While we acknowledge the rigorous scientific process undertaken by the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate these products against the public health standard, we remain concerned about the potential implication for youth initiation and lifelong tobacco addiction to high nicotine concentration products.

    “The American Cancer Society strongly recommends against dual use where consumers still use some amount of combustible tobacco alongside e-cigarettes. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable cancer death. Any amount of tobacco use is dangerous. To maximize public health, it is critical to prevent youth from starting any form of tobacco including e-cigarettes and to support all those who use tobacco products in quitting.

    “While the FDA has issued strict marketing restrictions in an effort to prevent youth exposure, the manufacturer of these authorized products, R.J. Reynolds, has an established track record of circumventing regulation to addict generation after generation of new customers. Continued post-market surveillance will be imperative to ensure the company complies with the regulation and further monitoring of extended use of these nicotine-containing products will be crucial to understand potential long-term health implications.

    “We call on the FDA to continue to prohibit all flavors in all tobacco products to prevent additional youth – and anyone else - from starting and encouraging those who use tobacco to quit for good.”

  • October Monthly Advocacy Update

    A message from Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN.

    This fall is shaping up to be one of the busiest legislative periods on Capitol Hill in recent memory, with robust and ongoing conversations among members of Congress and the Administration about the infrastructure and reconciliation packages currently under negotiation while the process of fiscal year 2022 appropriations is ongoing. It’s during pivotal times like this that the importance of ACS CAN’s role is most clear: to elevate the cancer patient perspective so our elected officials understand and consider the impact of their decision on cancer patients, survivors, and their families. ACS CAN advocates are fully engaged in these discussions to pursue numerous priority policy changes, as you’ll read below, including the critical need to create a health care coverage option for the millions of people in the coverage gap in the states that have refused to expand their Medicaid programs.

    Thank you for your ongoing support of ACS CAN and our lifesaving mission.

    U.S. House Committees Focus on Public Health with Increased Tobacco Tax, Greater Access to Affordable Health Care

    The U.S. House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees passed legislation that would greatly improve public health. 

    • First was the inclusion of doubling of the federal cigarette tax, while creating a first-ever tax on e-cigarettes and creating tax parity on some additional tobacco products. This is estimated to reduce the number of adults who smoke by 1.1 million. As discussions continue on the reconciliation package, ACS CAN volunteers have sent more than 3.7K messages to Senators to date to help ensure the House measure is included in final package. 
    • Secondly, the Committees included a new health care coverage option that will address the insurance coverage gap created in those states that have not yet expanded Medicaid, make permanent increased tax credits for marketplace coverage, create a national paid family and medical leave program, and cap Medicare enrollees’ out-of-pocket drug costs. 

    These bills are part of the larger reconciliation package Congress is currently considering. ACS CAN applauded the initial critical steps to address these important provisions that will impact our cancer mission and will continue to be working closely with both the House and the Senate, as well as the Administration, as they collectively determine the final framework for reconciliation and to pass the measures into law later this fall.  

    Read our press statement here. 

    Health Groups Urge FDA to Promptly Deny Marketing Applications for All Flavored E-cigarettes, Including Menthol

    ACS CAN and other leading public health groups urged the FDA to expedite decisions on remaining marketing applications for e-cigarettes, and swiftly deny applications for all flavored e-cigarettes including menthol products. FDA failed to meet a court-ordered deadline last month, leaving harmful products on the market indefinitely that endanger youth and our public health. Overwhelming data demonstrates the negative impact these flavored products have had on public health and their role in the youth e-cigarette epidemic. New data from the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Use Survey released in the final week of September found more than 2 million middle and high school students report using e-cigarettes in 2021, 85% of whom say they used flavored e-cigarette products. These data show Big Tobacco is succeeding in addicting another generation to the harms of tobacco use. 

     Digital Advertising Campaigns Urge Support of Early Detection Bill, Highlight Importance of Medicaid Programs 

    • New Ads Calls on Congress to Support Legislation Aiming to Increase Early Cancer Detection

    Graphical user interface, text, application    Description automatically generatedTo coincide with Leadership Summit & Lobby Day held the final days of September, ACS CAN launched new digital ads urging Congress to cosponsor the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act, a bill that aims to improve access to innovative cancer screening among Medicare patients. The animated ads underscore the importance of early detection in the fight against cancer, and will run through this month in Washington, D.C., California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon. Read our press statement here. 

     ACS CAN Ads Feature Patients and Provider Stories Highlighting Critical Role of Medicaid 

    Last week ACS CAN launched new digital ads through the Medicaid Covers US public education project. The ads feature stories of patients, survivors and health care providers who share how having access to care through Medicaid helps improve their health and create stronger communities, aiming to educate the public about the benefits of this lifesaving program. The ads, dually branded with ACS and ACS CAN logos, will run in Washington, D.C., Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. 

    ACS CAN Calls for Strong Patient Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills

    At the end of 2020, Congress passed major legislation to stop patients from receiving surprise medical bills, a win that ACS CAN strongly advocated for. As several federal agencies have worked to prepare for implementing the law on Jan. 1, 2022, ACS CAN has been actively involved to ensure that cancer patients and survivors are protected from receiving these bills – which penalize patients for receiving out-of-network care when they had no choice. ACS CAN submitted comments on the patient protections in the first interim final rule in September, and remains active in giving the agencies feedback as they continue to release more information. 

    Read our comments here.  

    State & Local Advances

    • The San Jose, CA, City Council voted to end the sale of many flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, flavored e-cigarettes and cigarillos, becoming the largest city in the country to end the sale of menthol cigarettes. Shisha (a tobacco product smoked in a hookah or waterpipe), premium cigars and loose leaf tobacco were exempted. Five ACS CAN volunteers testified at the hearing; ACS CAN’s Facebook Live virtual rally reached an audience of nearly 15K; and news coverage, including on Spanish-language network Telemundo, made clear our commitment to advancing comprehensive tobacco control policies, of which eliminating all flavors from the market is a critical success factor.
    • Last Friday marked the beginning of Medicaid expansion in Missouri. In July, the state Supreme Court ruled that the state must move forward with implanting voter-approved Medicaid expansion. ACS CAN helped elevate the story of Amanda Reynolds who applied for the program and is looking forward to having access to consistent and affordable health care. 
    • After ACS CAN provided written comments at a hearing last fall, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services lowered the eligibility age for the state’s breast and cervical cancer screening program to 21 and eliminated an administrative hurdle some patients faced. 
    • More than 170,000 Oklahomans have enrolled in Medicaid following the passage of the 2020 ballot initiative to expand Medicaid, a campaign that ACS CAN successfully worked in coalition with partner groups to increase access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage. 
    • ACS CAN submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services noting our strong objection to Tennessee’s Medicaid waiver request, which would “block grant” the state’s TennCare program and severely limit federal funding to the state. This radical restructure of funding could risk thousands of cancer patients and survivors’ access to health coverage. 
    • ACS CAN united with other leading patient advocacy groups to launch a coalition to support Medicaid expansion to provide health care to more than 42,000 lower-income South Dakotans. South Dakota is one of the 12 states that has refused to increase access to health care through Medicaid expansion. 
    • A new law took effect Sept. 1 in Texas that  removes out-of-pocket costs for patients needing a colonoscopy following a non-invasive screening – the 6th state to do so. The legislation also covers coverage for colorectal cancer screenings for those ages 45 and older in accordance with USPSTF guidelines released this past May. ACS CAN Texas volunteers and staff advocated throughout the legislative session to secure this win. 

    Replay: Recent Virtual Events 

    • Paid Family and Medical Leave

    On September 14, the ACS CAN-led coalition Patients and Caregivers for Paid Leave hosted a congressional briefing highlighting patients, caregivers and experts and discussing why the establishment of a national paid family and medical leave program is critical to people with serious illnesses and health conditions and their caregivers. Without access to paid leave, patients and caregivers risk financial hardship or not getting the care they or their loved ones need. Watch the replay here. 

    • Medicaid in the US Territories

    On September 30, ACS CAN hosted Medicaid in the US Territories: How Inequitable Funding Exacerbates Health Disparities, a virtual event exploring the role of Medicaid in addressing the health care needs of residents of the territories. Patients, providers and territorial leaders from Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands discussed the challenges caused by block granted Medicaid funding, and historical inequities in funding for health care in the territories. This was the fourth webinar in a series, to highlight the role of Medicaid and Health Equity, hosted by the ACS CAN Medicaid Covers US project. Watch the replay here

    • Biomarker Testing and Targeted Therapies

    ACS CAN worked with diverse partners to develop model legislation, which Illinois recently became the first state in the nation to pass, to expand insurance coverage of guideline-indicated biomarker testing, which can lead to improved outcomes, survivorship, and quality of life for cancer patients. Recent education events hosted by ACS CAN Texas and Florida teams explore the promise of precision medicine in oncology and the importance of ensuring timely patient access to this innovation. Watch here.  

    Advocacy in the News

    CNN: FDA Takes More Time to Decide on E-cigarettes

    New York Times: F.D.A. Delays Decision on Juul’s E-Cigarettes but Orders Others Off the Market

    The Cancer Letter: The Cancer Patients’ Bill of Rights: Helping Cancer Care Find Its Way Again

    The Post Newspaper, TX: State Law Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Takes Effect

    St. Croix Source, USVI: Cancer Society Says Inequitable Medicaid Threatens Lives in the V.I.

    KSTS-TV (Spanish), CA: A San Jose Mother Asks the City to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes

    KELO Radio, SD: South Dakota Medicaid Expansion

    Corvallis Gazette, OR & 1 other: ACS Still Advocates for Cancer Patients

    Washington Informer, DC: CBCF Panel Pushes Nationwide Policy for Paid Family Medical Leave

    Mountain Xpress, NC: Letter: Pandemic intensifies need for Medicaid expansion

    Santa Fe New Mexican, NM: New Mexico Lawmakers Eye Tobacco Tax Hike to Curb Use

    Bangor Daily News, ME: Bangor Would Be First in Maine to Ban Flavored Tobacco Sales

  • ACS CAN celebrates top advocacy award winners 🏆

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) kicked off its annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day on Sunday by recognizing staff and volunteers for the exceptional work they do throughout the year to make cancer a top national priority.

    Featured in the photo are State Lead Ambassadors of the Year, Butch Rivera and Gloria Garcia of Florida. 

    The top advocacy awards were presented virtually. The 2021 recipients include:


    Field Government Relations Professional of the Year – This award recognizes a government relations professional who has worked tirelessly to make a powerful, lasting impression in cancer-related public policy. 

    • Awardee: Shana Crews, Government Relations Director, Illinois and Iowa

    Field Grassroots Professional of the Year -- This award is given to an ACS CAN staff member whose collaborative efforts further the achievement of advocacy-related mission goals. 

    • Awardee:  Audrey Miller, Grassroots Manager, Oregon

    National/Regional Professional of the Year – This award is presented each year to an exemplary staff member who has made significant contributions to the organization through their cancer advocacy work.  

    • Awardee: Maggie Osborne, Director, Grassroots Organizing, Cure Region

    American Cancer Society Partner of the Year This award is given to a staff member at the American Cancer Society whose collaborative efforts with the organization’s advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN, further the achievement of advocacy-related mission goals. 

    • Awardee: Megan Wessel, Vice President, Cancer Control, American Cancer Society, Southeast Region

    Alan Mills Award - ACS CAN’s highest honor for advocacy staff, recognizes any current staff person who has consistently demonstrated leadership and excellence in the area of advocacy and public policy. 

    • Awardee: Sister Maggie Lopez, New Jersey 


    Volunteer Award for Excellence in Advocacy (VAEA) – This award is the highest national volunteer advocacy honor bestowed by ACS CAN. 

    • Awardee: Michael Holtz, Tennessee

    State Lead Ambassador (SLA) of the Year – This award is presented to a lead state volunteer who has demonstrated exemplary leadership in advocating for ACS CAN’s area of cancer-related public policy. This year, this award was presented to co-SLAs:

    • Awardee: Gloria Garcia, Florida
    • Awardee: Butch Rivera, Florida

    Ambassador Constituent Team (ACT) Lead of the Year -- This award is given to a lead congressional district volunteer who has demonstrated remarkable leadership advocating for ACS CAN’s areas of cancer-related public policy. 

    • Awardees: Carol Baker - California, Pearl Carter - Mississippi, Francina Booker – North Carolina, Donna Kemberling, Pennsylvania

    Emerging Leader Award - This award is presented to a state volunteer who has demonstrated an exciting promise in their start with ACS CAN by taking advantage of new opportunities to advocate for cancer patients. 

    • Awardee: Aditya Indla, California


    State Advocacy Team of the Year – This award is presented to combined staff and volunteer teams that have worked together to make a significant impression in cancer-related public policy. 

    • Awardee: Texas



  • ACS CAN Leadership Summit & Lobby Day is Sept. 26-29

    Next week, nearly 700 cancer advocates, including patients, survivors and their loved ones, from all 50 states and territories will dial into calls and log onto virtual meetings to ask members of Congress to make the fight against cancer a national priority as part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s (ACS CAN) annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. This year’s event coincides with ACS CAN’s 20th anniversary. The advocates will represent nearly every congressional district. 

    Due to the coronavirus pandemic, ACS will again host Leadership Summit and Lobby Day virtually from Sunday through Wednesday, September 26-29. This year, advocates will be asking their lawmakers to:   

    • Support increased funding for cancer research and prevention programs, with at least $51.7 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including $7.6 billion for cancer research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and $559 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) cancer programs, including $275 million for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP).  Advocates are running a digital ad campaign to highlight NBCCEDP and its need for more funding. The ads will run in digital publications in the Washington, D.C. market through October 1. 
    • Ensure that the expanded Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax credits are made permanent. The additional subsidies, which Congress approved in 2021 for people to purchase health coverage in the ACA marketplaces, are scheduled to expire at the end of 2022.  
    • Cosponsor the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act of 2021, which would make sure that Medicare enrollees have timely access to innovative blood-based multi-cancer early detection tests.

    ACS CAN will also recognize hardworking staff and volunteers for their outstanding work in cancer advocacy. Check ACS2Go for a full list of 2021 advocacy award recipients. In addition, the organization will honor a select group of lawmakers and others who have made exemplary contributions to the fight against cancer. The National Distinguished Advocacy Award, ACS CAN’s most prestigious honor, will be presented to Rhode Island State Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin and Rhode Island State Representative Mia Ackerman for championing state legislation that eliminates follow-up colonoscopy cost-sharing; Illinois State Representative Mary Flowers for her long-time commitment to health issues; U.S. Representative Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ) and U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) their work on colorectal cancer screening coverage legislation. 

    ACS CAN’s Judicial Advocacy Initiative award, which recognizes attorneys who generously donate their services to the cancer fight, will be presented to Joseph R. Palmore of Morrison & Foerster, LLP for his tremendous work fighting inadequate health coverage offered by short-term limited-duration insurance plans and opposing a rule that would have permitted health care providers to discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals and taken away some rights of individuals with limited English proficiency. 

    Throughout Leadership Summit and Lobby Day, ACS CAN will be hosting its annual silent auction, which will be held online. Please visit to learn more and take part. Proceeds from the silent auction will help ACS CAN further its advocacy work.  

    Please follow the #CancerLobbyDay hashtag on social media to see live updates and photos during Leadership Summit & Lobby Day.  

    Photo Credit: Posted on Facebook by ACS CAN Maine, this image was captured during a meeting with U.S. Senator Susan Collins and Sarah Khasawinah on virtual Lobby Day 2020.

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