Third of Ohio high school students use tobacco, one of highest youth use rates in US, report says

COLUMBUS — Ohio lobbyists advocated for more patient-friendly laws after a survey reported over a third of high school students in the state used tobacco products, giving Ohio one of the highest youth tobacco use rates.

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Cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers from across the United States traveled to the Capitol Tuesday to meet with their elected officials.

They advocated for improved access to cancer treatments and reduced costs for fighting the diagnosis, a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network stated.

“Those gathered at the Capitol yesterday are calling on Ohio lawmakers to change this by taking steps to make the fight against cancer a priority,” the organization’s Government Relations Director Leo Almedia said.

Advocates asked for greater support in legislation that would improve access to biomarker testing. Dubbed “the right treatment at the right time,” biomarker testing has been “critical” to improving cancer-remission outcomes, according to the spokesperson.

Advocates also argued for counting prescription costs toward the overall out-of-pocket maximum or deductible in an effort to make cancer treatment more affordable, the spokesperson continued.

Access to treatments have grown in importance as tens of thousands of Ohioans continue to be diagnosed with cancer each year.

“This year, an estimated 74,140 Ohioans will be diagnosed with cancer, and 24,770 are expected to die from the devastating disease,” Almedia informed.

Many of the cancer deaths, approximately a third of them, were attributed to smoking, the spokesperson reported.

“Ohio has one of the country’s highest youth tobacco use rates, with 36.7% of high school students using tobacco products,” the spokesperson said. “If nothing is done to reduce smoking rates, 259,000 Ohio kids currently under 18 will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.”

Advocates urged state lawmakers to increase funding to tobacco control programs to prevent students from using and consequently becoming addicted to the drug, the spokesperson stated. They requested an increase in funding by $20 million.

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