2021 ACS CAN Iowa Virtual Day at the Capitol Recap

2021 Blog Header - ACS CAN Virtual Day at the Capitol

By: Bridget Toomey, MS, CPC

2021 ACS CAN virtual advocacy with Senator Liz Mathis

Senator Liz Mathis

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live our lives. Consequently, there is no exception to the work of cancer advocates. For example, traditional in-person lobbying efforts have proven time and time again to be an effective way for cancer advocates to get their messages across. However, the same hadn’t been proven yet with virtual lobby days- until now!

On Friday, February 5, 2021, nearly 40 advocates, including many Iowa Cancer Consortium members, put their virtual advocacy skills to the test. Advocates logged on to attend Zoom advocacy trainings and virtual meetings that replaced the traditional day at the state capitol held yearly by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. The new virtual format proved to be successful. There were meetings with 12 legislator throughout the day. Additionally, there were many emails out to legislators who were unable to jump on a Zoom call. In addition to introductions to new and veteran advocates to their legislators, each meeting consisted of two asks:

  1. Protecting Iowa’s breast and cervical cancer screening funding.
  2. Protecting Iowa’s tobacco prevention and cessation funding.

Support Care for Yourself

The Ask: Support $274,000 in FY2022 Budget

2021 ACS CAN virtual advocacy with Representative Art Staed

Representative Art Staed

The Care for Yourself program is part of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program that helps reduce risks from breast cancer and cervical cancer.

Care for Yourself offers free or low-cost cancer screenings to eligible individuals. Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) program staff schedule appointments for the following services: clinical breast exams, mammograms, pelvic exams, and pap tests.

  • 7,750 Iowa women were served by Care for Yourself from 2014-2019[1]
  • 7,672 Iowa women received breast cancer screenings and diagnostic services as a result of Care for Yourself
  • Because of the Care for Yourself program, 137 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 138 women detected breast cancer

Tobacco Prevention & Cessation

The Ask: Support $4.02 million for tobacco prevention and cessation

Virtual advocacy with Senator Sarah Trone Garriott

Senator Sarah Trone Garriott.

Iowa Legislature created the Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control within the IDPH with programs to prevent kids from starting to use tobacco and help those already addicted to tobacco quit. Iowa Students for Tobacco Education and Prevention (ISTEP), for instance, has grown to have 2,200+ registered members in local chapters statewide. ISTEP is the only tobacco prevention organization with a youth-led structure, that is changing the tobacco world in Iowa.

Quitline Iowa provides free one-on-one phone counseling and information, local cessation program referrals, and can provide starter packs of quit smoking medications like nicotine gum, patches, and lozenges. For more information about Quitline Iowa, visit Quitline Iowa or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

  • 7% of high school students smoke cigarettes[i]
  • 1% of high school students use e-cigarettes
  • 4% of Iowa adults smoke cigarettes 27.8% of cancer deaths in Iowa are attributed to smoking
  • $1.28 billion annual health care costs directly caused by smoking
  • $364.5 million Medicaid costs caused by smoking

The new virtual format of the lobby day opened new doors for advocates to team up with each other and talk to representatives from different areas of the state. It also allowed advocates who could not traditionally make the drive to Des Moines to be a part of the action. Social media played an even more important role this year .Advocates used the hashtag #CancerActionDayIA across all social media platforms. We all hope to see each other face to face next year. Yet the virtual meeting opportunity was a success making old relationships stronger while building new ones.

[1] Citation: CDC National Breast & Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program- Iowa Summary 2020

[i] Citation: Tobacco Free Kids, Toll of Tobacco Iowa 2020