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Lung Cancer Awareness Month: Prevention Methods Key in ND

Despite adopting strong smoke-free laws in public places, about 1,000 North Dakotans die each year from smoking-related diseases. (eddie welker/Flickr)
Despite adopting strong smoke-free laws in public places, about 1,000 North Dakotans die each year from smoking-related diseases. (eddie welker/Flickr)
November 1, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. – November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, putting a spotlight on one of the leading causes of cancer death in the country.

Lung cancer is expected to account for more than a quarter of all cancer deaths in 2019, according to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America. Deb Knuth, government relations director with the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network in North Dakota, says states like hers can enact policies to fight back.

"Public policies that seek to reduce the burden of lung cancer,” says Knuth, “including tobacco control and cessation programs in North Dakota, sustained increases in funding for cancer research nationally, and increasing access to affordable health care."

Knuth says the leading cause of cancer by far is smoking, which takes the lives of about a thousand adults in North Dakota each year. And her group believes about 14,000 kids now under age 18 in the state will die prematurely from tobacco use.

Knuth says North Dakota has strong smoke-free laws in public spaces and is one of the greatest funders in the nation of tobacco-prevention programs. However, she says the state has fallen behind in another area.

"We have not raised the tobacco tax since 1993, and we're currently only at 44 cents,” says Knuth. “So, we need to bring North Dakota more in line in tobacco tax with other similar states – such as Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota, who are all currently higher than we are."

She adds November 21 is the Great American Smokeout, when smokers are encouraged to come up with plans to quit. While lung cancer is deadly, Knuth notes advancements in technology are providing a lot more hope for people who have been diagnosed with the disease.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND