Governor Pataki's Cancer Fighting Initiatives
Lung Cancer/Tobacco Control:
Under Governor Pataki, New York State is spending more than ever to combat smoking – about $20 million (this includes more than $8 million that was originally budgeted for the State's tobacco control program plus an additional $10 – $13 million that will come from the State's Medicaid program to fund smoking cessation products). The $20 million represents the highest level of funding in State history for New York's tobacco control program. Note: The tobacco control budget in the last year of the previous administration was only about $2 million.
New York's current tobacco control program includes:
- $3 million for a statewide media campaign – TV, Radio and Billboards
- New York recently began a new statewide billboard campaign. Seven new billboards were put up on 125 billboards across the state. These billboards have a more aggressive message including a black coffin with red roses on it, which reads "cigarettes are killing you," and another showing a teen licking an ashtray with the message "kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray."
- $2 million for tobacco enforcement to partner with local health departments to fund compliance checks of retailers across the State to ensure they are not selling tobacco products to youths.
- The first year results of this enhanced program have shown dramatic increases in compliance checks. Earlier this month, DOH released the first annual tobacco enforcement report, it showed that In 1997, nearly 28,000 compliance checks were conducted, an increase of 700% over the number of compliance checks in 1996.
- More than 5,000 vendors were found to be in violation of the youth access laws and were fined more than $1 million. In 1996 only about 500 vendors were fined.
- Earlier this month Dr. Novello announced the third year of funding for this program – $2 million was distributed to local governments.
- $500,000 was provided to retailer groups to assist them in training sessions on the laws and regulations pertaining to the sale of tobacco products to minors.
- $2 million in funding to community–based organizations to support comprehensive local tobacco prevention programs. This money will be used to fund 24 organizations, up from 19 organizations in 1998. This funding will help to fund the implementation of youth–oriented programs. $1 million for other tobacco control programs including youth partnerships for health.
- $13 million from the State's Medicaid program to cover smoking cessation products (such as Zyban and Habitrol) to help eligible New Yorkers quit smoking. Cessation is part of the State's anti–smoking campaign which includes, among others components, prevention and cessation.
- Cancer Mapping: Governor Pataki directed the State Health Department to prepare maps that show the cancer incidence rates across the State. The first maps to be released will be county–level incidence rates, including maps of Lung cancer, colorectal cancer and breast cancer. These maps will be followed by maps that identify cancer incidence in smaller than county areas, followed by information relating to cancer risk factors, including environmental factors. This information will be provided to give the public as much information, in as many formats as possible, so that they can make educated decisions about the preventive measures they should take to help avoid getting cancer.
- Income Tax Breast Cancer Check–off: Governor Pataki signed legislation creating a check–off box on New York income tax forms allowing taxpayers to make a contribution to breast cancer research and education. Taxpayers made contributions totaling $1.8 million during the past three years, supporting 28 innovative research projects that will help to fight this dreaded disease.
- Breast Cancer/Elimination of Outpatient Mastectomies: Legislation signed by the Governor, The Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1997, gives women facing breast cancer surgery important new protections. Women are now assured the right to decide, in consultation with their physicians, the length of their hospital stay following breast cancer surgery – providing them with the emotional and medical support they need and deserve. In addition, insurance companies are required to cover the cost of reconstruction following breast cancer surgery, including surgery on the other breast to produce a symmetrical appearance. The bill also mandates coverage for second opinions concerning the diagnosis and treatment of all kinds of cancer.
- Mobile Mammography Units: More women throughout the State now have access to routine breast cancer screening due to five new mobile mammography units funded by the Cancer Services Initiative of Governor Pataki's Health Care Reform Act. The portable units are housed in vans and taken to churches, grange halls and other community sites. The goal is to enhance both the geographic availability and the cultural acceptability of services, reaching isolated women unable or unwilling to use fixed site services. More than 15,000 women in rural areas, inner cities and on Long Island benefit from these mobile services.
- Healthy Women Partnerships: Governor Pataki's support for this statewide network of 53 community–based breast and cervical cancer screening projects, called Healthy Women Partnerships, is providing more than 50,000 low–income, uninsured or underinsured women with annual comprehensive breast and cervical cancer screening examinations and follow–up services. Partnerships evaluate the status of breast and cervical cancer screening services in their communities, identify women at risk, develop tracking systems to monitor clients and recall them at recommended intervals.
The partnerships include local women's groups, service organizations, businesses, nonprofit organizations, media representatives, religious and cultural leaders, public sector agencies and medical providers. With the Governor's support, this important program saw its resources increase year after year, along with the number of women that were tested. From 1997–99, nearly 135,000 breast cancer screenings have been provided to underserved women through Department–sponsored cancer screening programs. Through these screenings, nearly 600 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, many at an early stage when treatment is successful 97 percent of the time.
- Colorectal Cancer Initiatives: In 1997, Governor Pataki directed DOH to begin a pilot project for colorectal cancer screening through the distribution of fecal occult blood test kits. The pilot project was expanded to 17 sites across the State in 1998. During those two years, more than 8,500 men and women were educated about colorectal cancer. And about 4,800 of them were screened.
Cancer Research Efforts:
- The Department of Health's Wadsworth Laboratories are performing cutting edge research on environmental and genetic factors involved in cancer causation, deciphering mechanisms of tumor formation, and developing more effective therapies.
- Many of these efforts are directed at breast cancer. One of the most significant developments is the discovery of how certain molecules, called cyclins, become deranged in breast cancer cells. Efforts are underway to determine whether these molecules can be used as prognostic markers and as targets for treatment.
- Other efforts are aimed at understanding how some breast cancers transition from estrogen–dependence to independence. Extensive efforts are also directed at finding new targets for breast cancer therapy, and preventing or overcoming drug resistance.