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Fort Worth City Council votes to ban smoking in bars

On Dec. 12, the City Council in Fort Worth, Texas, voted 8-1 to expand its smoke-free ordinance to include a ban on smoking (including e-cigarettes) in bars and bingo parlors. This is a big win for ACS CAN, which led the effort to educate the community and the City Council on the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

"Because of the hard work of ACS CAN staff and volunteers, Fort Worth joins more than 80 cities across the state that have implementing comprehensive smoke-free ordinances," said Cam Scott, Texas ACS CAN government relations director. Fort Worth was the only major city in Texas without a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance.

In addition, the new law prohibits retail smoke shops within 300 feet of schools, universities, and hospitals. It still allows smoking in outdoor dining areas and patios of public places, provided the area where smoking is permitted is at least 20 feet from entrances and exits, and private clubs.

The ordinance will take effect on March 12, and ACS CAN will continue to work in Fort Worth to ensure the new ordinance is fully implemented and enforced. 

  • Senate health care repeal puts cancer patients' coverage at risk

    In the early morning hours of Dec. 2, the U.S. Senate passed a tax bill that essentially repeals the nation's health care law with no replacement plan.

    According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), eliminating the insurance requirement from current law would lead to 13 million more Americans being uninsured by 2027, and would increase premiums by 10 percent annually.

    The Senate bill does, however, improve upon two other provisions threatened in the House proposal that are important to reducing the cancer burden. The Senate draft reduces, but does not eliminate, the orphan drug tax credit, and leaves in place and makes more generous the medical expense deduction.

    A statement from Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:

    "Repealing the individual mandate without a replacement leaves cancer patients, survivors, and all those with serious illnesses at risk of being priced out of the individual health insurance market. Americans who need quality health care will likely pay more and have fewer choices as some young and healthy people forgo insurance, and health insurers charge more or leave the market entirely.

    "Changes in the law that adversely affect millions of Americans' health care should be carefully considered, not included as a one-off provision to help pay for an otherwise unrelated tax bill. The stakes are too high and the risks to patients too great.

    "While we have been supportive of the two bipartisan market stabilization bills authored by Senators Alexander and Murray and Senators Collins and Nelson, we are concerned that enactment of those bills would not be sufficient to restore the market if the mandate is repealed in the tax bill.  As the CBO indicated this week, those bills will not mitigate the impact on the 13 million people projected to lose insurance if this change is made in the law.

    "On behalf of all those affected by cancer, we urge lawmakers to put patients first and reject the repeal of the individual mandate and protect the medical expense deduction and orphan drug tax credit in their final legislation."

  • ACS CAN joins other leading patient advocacy groups to urge Senate to reject health bill

    On Sept. 25, ACS CAN volunteers joined patients, consumers, and leading patient advocacy groups at a press conference in Washington, D.C. to voice their concerns about health care legislation that was under consideration in the U.S. Senate.

    A day later, Senate leaders announced that they will not vote on the latest health care legislation this week. Saturday, Sept. 30, is the deadline for the Senate to be able pass a repeal bill with just 51 votes.

    During the Protect Patients NOW event and throughout the day, opponents called on senators to reject the Graham-Cassidy health bill and to preserve quality health care access and coverage for millions of Americans. Read the post-event press release here.

    ACS CAN volunteer Steve Taylor (pictured above), a three-time cancer survivor from Alaska, relies on expensive monthly injections to keep his genetic form of pancreatic cancer in check. Each injection costs more than $10,000, but without it his tumors would grow and lead to his early death. Proposed insurance changes in the pending Graham-Cassidy legislation could allow insurance plans in certain states to cap or opt out of treatments like prescription drugs, leaving Taylor with few, if any, options for his care.

    “With my health history any possible caps on coverage would pose a serious threat to my physical and financial health,” Taylor said. “I can’t afford $10,000 a month, but what option would I have? I just hope Senator Murkowski and her colleagues consider the real consequences of this bill and vote no.”

    The press conference, which took place shortly before the only scheduled hearing on the legislation, was organized by a number of patient and public interest groups, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Consumers Union, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 

    The groups oppose many of the Graham-Cassidy health bill's key provisions, including giving states the option to waive the requirement that plans cover essential health benefits such as certain cancer treatments or care, allowing insurers to potentially charge people more based on their health status, and drastically cutting critical Medicaid funding. 

    ACS CAN expert one of six panelists invited to testify before the Senate Finance Committee

    Dick Woodruff, ACS CAN senior VP of federal advocacy, was among a panel of six that testified about proposed health care changes the Graham-Cassidy bill would bring. He told the senators it could leave millions of cancer patients and survivors without access to adequate, affordable health insurance coverage. You can watch his testimony here. It runs from 1:24:48 to 1:30:26. 

    Dick called for bipartisan cooperation on meaningful ways to improve the current health care system, and stated that ACS CAN stands ready to work with the Committee and all members of Congress to develop a proposal that makes health care adequate and affordable for all Americans.

    The six-member panel the committee heard from also included co-author of the bill, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD, (R-LA); Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania; Dennis G. Smith, senior advisor for Medicaid and Health Care Reform, Arkansas Department of Human Services; Teresa Miller, acting secretary, Department of Human Services, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and Cindy Mann, former deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

    Read more about the Sept. 25 events here and visit

    TOP PHOTO: Steve Taylor, an ACS CAN volunteer from Alaska, shared his personal story at today’s press conference. 

  • Special Advocacy Update

    Advocates gather for ACS CAN's 11th Annual Leadership Summit & Lobby Day 

    More than 450 dedicated ACS CAN volunteers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico representing 373 Congressional districts gathered in Washington, D.C. Sept. 10-13 for the 11th annual ACS CAN Leadership Summit and Lobby Day (Lobby Day). Over the course of three days, the top two leadership tiers of ACS CAN's national volunteer structure – state lead ambassadors (SLA) and ambassador constituent team (ACT!) leads – along with their staff partners, received skills training, attended issue briefings, took advantage of networking opportunities and met with their representatives in Congress and members of their staffs.

    Special honors presented 

    During the meeting, ACS CAN presented the annual National Distinguished Advocacy Award (NDAA) to Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Patty Murray (D-WA) to acknowledge their longtime support for federal funding for cancer research. Senator Blunt's award was featured in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The NDAA, ACS CAN's most prestigious advocacy honor for leadership in the fight against cancer, was also presented to Malia Cohen, San Francisco supervisor and Benjamin Cruz, Speaker of the Guam Legislature, both for their work in advancing our mission in tobacco control. Sandi Cassese, an ACS CAN Board officer, received the ACS CAN Volunteer Award for Excellence in Advocacy, ACS CAN's highest national honor for volunteer advocacy.

    The following staff and volunteers also received special recognition awards.

    • Ruth Parriott, Minnesota, Alan Mills Award 
    • Ann Vaughn, Virginia, Field Grassroots Professional of the Year
    • Eunice Hosteller, Washington, State Lead Ambassador of the Year
    • Ellie Beaver, Minnesota, Government Relations Professional of the Year
    • Vivienne Stearns-Elliott, Maryland, American Cancer Society Partner of the Year
    • Patti Bossert, North Carolina, Regional Professional Award
    • Juanita Taylor, North Carolina, ACT! Lead of the Year
    • Martha Cox, Colorado, ACT! Lead of the Year
    • Kathy Goss, Illinois, ACT! Lead of the Year
    • Ian Lock, Wisconsin, Emerging Leader Award
    • California volunteers and staff, State Advocacy Team of the Year Award

    We also presented our annual award for outstanding service to a volunteer attorney as part of our Judicial Advocacy Initiative (JAI) program.  Now in its ninth year, the JAI recruits lawyers to donate their services in mission-critical areas, providing ACS CAN with legal expertise on issues from protecting patients in clinical trials to understanding the complex regulatory structures that affect access to cancer drugs. The work of the JAI lawyers extends ACS CAN's policy expertise and influence with lawmakers in support of cancer patients in many areas of the law.

    This year's JAI award was presented to an attorney for work that takes us back to our roots – tobacco control. Scott Lewis, of the law firm of Anderson & Kreiger, is our counsel in ACS CAN's ongoing lawsuit to compel the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to comply with the Family Smoking Act requirement to direct the placement of graphic warning labels on all cigarette packages and advertisements.  As the lead counsel in the case, Lewis has donated countless hours of this time, energy and thoughtful expertise.

    Coaches rally advocates for Capitol Hill meetings

    Lobby Day itself kicked off on Sept. 12 with a rally featuring four members of the Coaches vs. Cancer, nationwide collaboration between the Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches that empowers coaches, teams and communities to help save more lives from cancer. Coaches in attendance were Coach John Gallagher of the University of Hartford, Coach Jeff Jones of Old Dominion University, Coach Jack Murphy of Northern Arizona University, and Coach Josh Pastner of Georgia Tech University.

    In their remarks, each coach accentuated the uniquely powerful influence cancer advocates possess and each shared their personal cancer stories and committed to joining us to advance the interests of all cancer patients, survivors, and their families.

    Following the coaches send-off, ACS CAN advocates departed for Capitol Hill where they participated in 473 meetings (including every Senate office and 85 percent of House offices). Nearly half of the meetings – 228 to be exact – were conducted face-to-face with members of Congress themselves. Advocates urged lawmakers to boost research funding and advance legislation that supports patients' quality of life by increasing access to palliative or supportive care, which can be provided at any age or stage of illness. They also called on their representatives to close a loophole in Medicare that often results in surprise costs for seniors when a polyp is found during a routine screening colonoscopy.

    HOPE shines light on lives touched by cancer 

    After a full day of meetings on Capitol Hill, volunteers and staff gathered at the Lincoln Memorial where nearly 25,000 Lights of Hope – the most in the event's seven-year history – illuminated the reflecting pool to honor cancer survivors and caregivers and in memory of loved ones lost to the disease.

    The Lights of Hope ceremony inspires all of us to carry on the fight. Dedicated volunteers and staff collected nearly $234,000 toward Lights of HOPE – a $22,000 increase over last year which was combined with a $150,000 gift made by the Celgene Corporation, as the event's corporate sponsor. 

    Two members of Congress, Rep. Brian Higgin (NY-26) and Rep. Rick Nolan (MN-6), each made remarks and assured the volunteers that their voices were heard.Attendees also heard the moving personal story of ACS CAN volunteer, Alicia Cook, who credited her status as a two-time breast cancer survivor to the advanced treatment option made possible through a clinical trial. Her older sister was not as fortunate and lost her own battle with breast cancer.  

    Wednesday's keynote speaker was the legendary E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg, a prostate cancer survivor, who was featured in The Hill for bringing his call for increased research funding to Washington, D.C.

    In closing the program, Weinberg praised our advocates for their unwavering commitment and shared his personal cancer story with uncommon candor. His daughter, Ali, who carriers the BRCA1 mutation, joined her father on stage to answer questions from volunteers.

    PHOTOS: In the large image you can see Lights of Hope lining the reflecting pool near the Lincoln Memorial. Pictured in the smaller photo is Sandi Cassese, an ACS CAN Board officer, who received this year's ACS CAN Volunteer Award for Excellence in Advocacy.

  • ACS CAN celebrates staff and volunteers with top advocacy awards

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) began 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.

    The top advocacy awards were presented at ACS CAN's National Advocacy Leadership Awards dinner in Washington, DC.  The 2017 recipients include:


    • Volunteer Award for Excellence in Advocacy (VAEA) – This award is the highest national volunteer advocacy honor bestowed by ACS CAN.
    • 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.
      • Awardee: Eunice Hosteller, Washington
    • 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: Juanita Taylor - North Carolina, Martha Cox - Colorado, Kathy Goss – Illinois

    • Emerging Leader Award (new) - 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: Ian Lock, Wisconsin

    Staff and Volunteer:

    • 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: California


    • 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: Minnesota Government Relations Director Ellie Beaver
    • 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: Virginia Grassroots Manager Ann Vaughn 
    • 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: Patti Bossert of North Carolina, associate director of Regional Grassroots and Program Integration, Eastern 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: Vivienne Stearns-Elliott, communications director for  D.C./Maryland/Delaware, Northeast 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: Ruth Parriott of Minnesota, vice president of Advocacy, Western Region

    PHOTOS: Top photo, pictured in the center is ACS CAN New York volunteer, Sandra Cassese, recipient of the Volunteer Award for Excellence in Advocacy, the highest national volunteer award given by ACS CAN. With her, from left: ACS CAN Board Chair John Hamilton, DDS; ACS CAN President Chris Hansen, ACS and ACS CAN CEO Gary Reedy; ACS Board Chair Arnold M. Baskies, MD, FACS; and ACS CAN Strategic Director of Advocacy Organizational Development & Training Jeff Martin. In the smaller photo, ACS Partner of the Year Vivienne Stearns-Elliott, center, poses with (L to R) ACS CAN President Chris Hansen, ACS and ACS CAN CEO Gary Reedy;  ACS Board Chair Arnold M. Baskies, MD, FACS and ACS CAN Strategic Director of Advocacy Organizational Development & Training Jeff Martin

  • It's Lobby Day!

    The day that more than 700 cancer patients, survivors, and their loved have been preparing for is here! It is ACS CAN's annual Lobby Day in our nation's capital.

    Advocates from all 50 states and nearly every congressional district will be asking Congress to make the fight against cancer a national priority.

    For the past two days, they have been in Washington, D.C., participating in hands-on training, educational seminars, and events to prepare for Capitol Hill meetings with their members of Congress.

    Among them is Lorna and Ed Hill from Massillon, Ohio, and Waukegan, Ill. cancer suvivor Maggie Powell. Their stories are worth reading.

    They will be urging Congress to:

    • Increase federal funding for cancer research and prevention programs at the National Institutes of Health
    • Support the Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act (HR 1676/S 693), legislation that will support patients' quality of life by increasing access to palliative care
    • Support the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Screening Act (HR 1017/ S 479), legislation that will close a loophole in Medicare that often results in surprise costs for seniors when a polyp is found during a routine colonoscopy.

    Rallying the advocates this morning are NCAA Division I basketball coaches John Gallagher of the University of Hartford, Jeff Jones of Old Dominion University, Jack Murphy of Northern Arizona University, and Josh Pastner of Georgia Tech. The coaches are members of Coaches vs. Cancer®, a nationwide collaboration between ACS and the National Association of Basketball Coaches™. 

    Tonight, more than 25,000 Lights of HOPE – each decorated with the name of a friend or loved one impacted by cancer – will circle the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial. This inspiring sight will serve as the backdrop for a very moving Lights of HOPE ceremony during which professional NASCAR driver Scott Lagasse, Jr. will share his story of surviving colon cancer. The ACS CAN Lights of HOPE ceremony is presented by Celgene. Please follow @ACSCAN and #LightsofHope on Twitter for live updates and photos from the event.

    Leadership Summit and Lobby Day will conclude on September 13 with a keynote address from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer Max Weinberg, best known as the longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and as the bandleader for Conan O'Brien on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. He had surgery for prostate cancer in  2011. 

    Be sure to follow @ACSCAN and #CancerLobbyDay on Twitter for live updates and photos from Leadership Summit and Lobby Day!

  • ACS CAN Lights of Hope fundraising campaign to break record

    On Tuesday, September 12, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) will host its 7th Annual Lights of HOPE ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, DC.

    As part of ACS CAN's Leadership Summit and Lobby Day September 10-13, the Lights of Hope ceremony will honor those who have been touched by cancer and remember those who have lost their battle against the disease. The ceremony is one way ACS CAN advocates will be highlighting the importance of making cancer a top national priority.

    During this year's ceremony, 25,000 Lights of Hope bags will be lit, breaking a record. Last year, more than 24,000 Lights of Hope illuminated the U.S. Capitol Reflecting Pool and $369,261 was raised. 

    For staff and volunteers who can't be at the Lights of Hope ceremony in person, there's an easy way to participate. For a donation of just $10 to ACS CAN, interested staff and volunteers can dedicate a Lights of Hope bag in honor or in memory of a loved one. Their name will be placed on a Lights of Hope bag and displayed along with thousands of others around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

    The deadline to make a Lights of Hope donation is Monday, September 4, 2017. 

    To learn more about Lights of Hope and make a donation, visit Please note that contributions or gifts to ACS CAN are not tax deductible.

  • Thanks, in part, to the great work of ACS and ACS CAN, the Indoor Tanning Association folds, citing a shrinking tanning industry

    ​The Indoor Tanning Association (ITA) founded in 1999 to promote the business of indoor tanning is closing up shop, thanks to organizations like ACS, ACS CAN, and the 45-member National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, which work hard to educate the public and lawmakers about the tanning industry's contribution to skin cancer, particularly among young adults.

    In an announcement in the August 1 online edition of IST Magazine for the indoor tanning industry, John Overstreet, the executive director of the ITA, wrote:

    "In July, the Indoor Tanning Association Board of Directors voted to end operations and dissolve the corporation. . . Because of such factors as the recession, the Tan Tax, the aggressive push by the states to limit teen access to indoor tanning, and the unrelenting misinformation campaign waged against this industry in the media, we have seen the size of our industry decrease by half over the past eight years." 

    The ITA had run into trouble several times with the Federal Trade Commission over the years for making false claims on its website. Two such claims were that indoor tanning does not increase skin cancer, and that indoor tanning is safer than outdoor tanning. Both statements are false. Those misrepresentations continued up until this year, despite a 2010 settlement with the FTC.

    The death of the ITA comes as great news to ACS and ACS CAN, which has been working diligently for years to get the facts in front of the public, and get laws passed to protect minors from the dangers of tanning beds.

    Here are some of the actual facts about indoor tanning and skin cancer:

    • Analyses have shown that indoor tanning use before the age of 35 increases melanoma risk by 59 percent, squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent, and basal cell carcinoma by 29 percent. Similarly, a more recent study found that indoor tanning was associated with a six-fold increase in melanoma risk among women younger than age 30.
    • In 2009, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer increased the classification of UV emitting indoor tanning devices to the highest level of cancer risk – Group 1 –“carcinogenic to humans.” This classification places tanning devices in the same category as other known carcinogens such as tobacco, benzene, and asbestos.
    • Tanning devices deliver UVA dosages 5-15 times higher than delivered by the summer midday sun on a Mediterranean beach. UVA is the main UV wavelength individuals are exposed to in tanning devices and frequent exposure to UVA increases the risk of melanoma.

    For more details, read this ACS CAN document titled "Just the Facts: Indoor Tanning."

    ACS CAN and its advocates has been working tirelessly in states across the country to get laws passed that prohibit teen use of tanning devices. Thanks to their efforts, Oklahoma and West Virginia recently passed laws to prohibit the use of tanning devices for everyone under the age of 18. To date, 14 states, plus the District of Columbia, have adopted comprehensive indoor tanning laws. A recent Society-supported study, however, found that some businesses are flouting those laws.

  • ACS CAN releases 15th annual "How Do You Measure Up?" report

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network has just released its 15th annual report on state legislative activity to reduce cancer incidence and mortality. This annual snapshot of key state policies indicates that as the nation is looking toward more state-driven solutions to address chronic disease prevention and access to health coverage, many states are actually falling behind in this area.

    The report prompted Society CEO Gary Reedy to write an op-ed piece that appeared August 4 in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

    “State lawmakers are in a unique position with proven opportunities at their fingertips to reduce the number of people in their states that hear the words, ‘you have cancer,’” said Chris Hansen, president of ACS CAN. “When it comes to this disease, the decisions being made in our state capitals can be the difference between life and death for patients. By passing the proven policies laid out in this report, state lawmakers will not only be saving lives, they’ll be reducing long-term health care costs that can be reinvested back into state economies.”

    "How Do You Measure Up?" grades states in nine specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer:

    • Tobacco excise taxes
    • Smoke-free laws
    • Tobacco control funding
    • Medicaid coverage of tobacco cessation
    • Indoor tanning restrictions
    • Access to Medicaid
    • Breast and cervical cancer screening programs
    • Pain policy
    • Access to palliative care

    Overall, the report found that:

    • 20 states reach benchmarks in only two or fewer of the nine legislative priority areas measured by ACS CAN
    • 29 states and the District of Columbia measure up in just three to five of the nine areas
    • Only two states – California and Massachusetts – meet benchmarks in six or more of the nine categories
    • No state meets benchmarks in eight or nine policy areas.

    A color-coded system is used to identify how well a state is doing:

    • Green represents the benchmark position and indicates that a state has adopted evidence-based policies and best practices
    • Yellow indicates that a state making progress towards the benchmark position
    • Red means that a state is falling behind

    This year, increased access to health care through Medicaid is the issue where the most states met the benchmark, with 32 states rated green. Only four states --  Alaska, California, North Dakota, and Oklahoma -- are doing well on tobacco control funding, making it the issue where the fewest states met the benchmark. If you go to, you can use the drop-down to find your state's report card.

    The first "How Do You Measure Up?" report was released in 2003 and, in just 15 years, a lot of progress has been made when it comes to cancer advocacy at the state level. This milestone is a great opportunity to reflect on how far we have come.

    Since 2003, there has been a 25 percent drop in the cancer death rate. In 2003 only two states had smoke-free laws and 74 municipalities had passed smoke-free ordinances. Today, 25 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, and 876 municipalities across the country have laws in effect that require 100 percent smoke-free workplaces, including restaurants and bars. In another example of recent progress, to date, 32 states and the District of Columbia have increased access to care by expanding eligibility for Medicaid enrollment and reduced the number of uninsured individuals in their states.

    Yet, this year alone, nearly 1.7 million Americans will hear the words "you have cancer." Therefore, while it's important to celebrate progress, work must continue to reduce suffering and death from cancer.

    You can find the full report at ACS CAN's press release on its report here.

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