Hello Chairman D’Allesandro and Members of the Senate Finance Committee
My name is Hillary St.Pierre and I am speaking on behalf of The American Cancer Society in support of raising the states’ cigarette tax.
I am here speaking today because I have received three years of chemotherapy and radiation and two stem cell transplants to fight my Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Despite my long battle, I have not been cured and will likely resume treatment in June.
Cancer is one of America’s greatest killers. Based on the latest data, American Cancer Society epidemiologists predict that approximately 7,030 NH residents will be diagnosed with cancer and 2,640 will die from the disease in 2009.
If today is an average day, seven people will die of cancer in New Hampshire alone.
Cancer kills indiscriminately with no regard to race, age, sex, socioeconomic status, and heritage. Cancer is an equal opportunity killer.
It has chosen to try to kill me.
If the word cancer was replaced with serial killer, the media would be alerted. There would be a great public uprising and demands for every possible means of finding this killer and bringing them to justice regardless of cost. Local police departments, as well as the FBI, would be called in.
The Federal Bureau of Justice homicide data shows homicide kills far fewer victims than cancer. (http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_04/offenses_reported/violent_crime/murder.html)
It is clear the mass murderer we should fear is cancer.
However, because cancer is a disease and not an individual, cancer is not receiving the funding needed to combat its mass killings.
Studies prove every time a state significantly increases its cigarette tax, rates of smoking decrease. From a health standpoint, a decrease in smoking will lessen the possibility of future lung, throat, or oral cancer.
Second hand smoke has been linked to recurrent ear infections in children as well as increased asthma.
A decrease in smoking from an increase in taxes may ease recurrent childhood ear infections, which cause speech delays requiring therapy that is provided through the school system using taxpayer’s money to correct.
The money from a tax on cigarettes could then be used to fund cancer prevention, epidemiological research , and studies to reform health care making the system as efficient and cost effective as possible to fight disease.
NH will need all the money possible to combat cancer. A January 27, 2009 article in Businessweek entitled “Soaring Cancer Drugs May Cripple Medicare” states “Medicare spending on drugs administered in a doctor's office, the vast majority of which are cancer treatments, rose from $3 billion in 1997 to $11 billion in 2004, a 267% increase. Overall Medicare spending rose by only 47% over the same period.”
Studies show the magnitude of the cost increase for each new drug for colon cancer exceeded the magnitude of improvement in efficacy. Fifteen years ago, Bristol-Myers' (BMY) Taxol was the only commonly used cancer drug that cost more than $2,500 per month. Today, Genentech's (DNA) Avastin, Eli Lilly's (LLY) Erbitux, and Novartis' (NVS) Gleevec, all widely used, can cost $10,000 per month and up (http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jan2009/tc20090127_588803.htm?campaign_id=rss_daily).
In summary, we are paying more but we are not getting better results. Eventually, we will have the same amount of cancer patients using an astronomical proportion of medicare costs. There will need to be a way to fund this disparity. Raising the cigarette tax is a wise step.
Cancer has chosen to attack me. Despite my long fight and bad odds, I have hope I will survive. However, I do not want any other young mother, wife, or career woman to endure what I have had to.
In the future, cancer may choose you, your spouse, child, parent, or loved one. Cancer is a disease that will invade 1 in 3 females and 1 in 2 males. It will likely affect each and every one of us here today through diagnosis or association in our lives.
Through raising the cigarette tax we are taking a strong preemptive strike to save those we love from being faced with the expensive mass killer that is cancer.
Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.
He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.
Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."
I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.
I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."