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Group wants to ensure laws fighting cancer are uniform

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One advocacy group has reached out to the governor and legislators to ensure Guam laws are inline with the fight against cancer. Raising awareness was the main goal of the inaugural American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Advocacy Day that took place at the Guam Legislature Tuesday.

ASCAN's Hawaii representative Cory Chun said, "The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society and we actually do an advocacy day in every state. Basically what we're trying to do is grow our presence here in Guam, because we know that through public policy it's the greatest tool to fight cancer."

Members met with both Governor Eddie Calvo and senators to discuss how public laws can be strengthened. Guam's smoke-free law for example - the Natasha Protection Act - has loopholes that allow for smoking in hotels, bars, nightclubs, and even some office spaces.

In a survey from the 2015 relay for life, 83 percent of participants agreed bars and night clubs should be smoke-free, 98 percent thought office spaces should be smoke-free, and 96 percent thought hotels should be required to provide smoke-free rooms. As for electronic cigarettes and vaping, 87 percent thought these should be included in Guam's smoke-free laws.

Guam ambassador Joleen Limtiaco said, "One of the priorities we're looking at is smoking, smoking amongst our youth, and how we can help to eliminate that on the island, or make it harder for them to purchase cigarettes and educate them about the health effects of smoking."

Guam has the seventh-highest cigarette tax rate in the nation; however ASCAN would like to see more of these funds available for use in wellness and prevention programs. Other sources of funding include community initiatives such as the 2015 Relay for Life. Community manager Tina Noket says this year's event raised a total of $450,000, which will be put towards cancer research, treatment, and screening.

Limtiaco added, "Cancer affects all of us here every single one of us knows someone who passed away from cancer surviving cancer or battling cancer so we want to just to get the word out that we are here to help fight for laws that help save lives everyday."

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