2020 ACS CAN Iowa Day at the Capitol Recap

April 2020 Blog - ACS CAN Day at the Capitol

By: Bridget Toomey, MS, CPC

On Wednesday February 5, 2020, 75 advocates took to the steps of the Iowa State Capitol to speak to their representatives about cancer policy. Advocates, including many Iowa Cancer Consortium members, came from around the state to team up with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society (ACS). For this year’s Day at the Capitol event, the advocates had three asks: include e-cigarettes in the definition of a tobacco product, to increase Iowa’s tobacco tax, and to increase funding towards tobacco prevention.


When Iowa implemented the Smokefree Air Act in 20081, much less was known about e-cigarettes and vaping products. For this reason, and many others, e-cigarettes were left out of the definition of a tobacco product in the language of the Smokefree Air Act legislation. Because of this exclusion, e-cigarettes are not currently taxed like their combustible cigarette counterparts. The ask of the ACS CAN members is to include e-cigarettes in the definition of a tobacco product, thus allowing for tax parity with combustibles.

Tobacco Tax

The state’s cigarette tax has not been raised since 2007 and has now fallen behind other states. In the U.S., Iowa currently ranks 30th for tobacco taxes with the current tax rate at just $1.36 per pack, compared to the national average of $1.812. The ask of the ACS CAN is to increase the tobacco tax to by $1.50 on all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Current Iowa tax on tobacco products is $1.36. Statistics show this increase would result in $664.83 million in long-term health care cost savings from adult and youth smoking declines, 16.5% decrease in youth (under age 18) smoking, and $96.08 million projected annual revenue from $1.50/pack increase.

Tobacco Prevention/Control Funding

In 2008, tobacco prevention funding in Iowa was at $12.8 million dollars. Fast forward to today, and the tobacco prevention funding is at just $4.02 million. While still nowhere near the $30.1 million recommended by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC)3, the ask of the ACS CAN is to increase funding to tobacco prevention by $8.78 million to be back in line to the 2008 spending of $12.8 million.

ACS CAN Iowa Volunteer Recognition

In addition to busy day at the capitol, ACS CAN took time to honor several outstanding advocates of 2019. Four of these awards were given to Iowa Cancer Consortium members!

Morgan Newman – Advocacy
Kelly Hendershot – Community Outreach
Dr. Richard Deming – Leadership
Bridget Toomey – Recruitment

For Blog - ACS CAN Iowa Volunteers of the Year

1 https://smokefreeair.iowa.gov/faq/when-did-smokefree-air-act-take-effect
2 https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/smoking-region/tobacco-use-iowa-2019
3 https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/stateandcommunity/best_practices/pdfs/2014/states/iowa.pdf