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October 07, 2019

As a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, The University of Kansas Cancer Center has to demonstrate that we are significantly improving the health of our communities. We must show that we are providing highly effective and wide-spanning outreach capabilities with dissemination into the general population.

And one of our biggest challenges is helping people to stop smoking.

In 2014, cancer became the No. 1 cause of death in Kansas, and lung cancer is a big culprit. More than 2,000 Kansans were diagnosed with lung cancer, one of the most preventable types of cancer, and most of these people will die for one reason alone: They smoked cigarettes.

The Healthy KC initiative, launched by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, has put forward a Tobacco 21 proposal that would raise the age of purchase for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21 years. By raising the age of tobacco purchase to 21, we can have a dramatic impact on access to cigarettes in our schools. This will, in turn, reduce the number of children who get addicted to cigarettes and, subsequently, reduce the burden of lung cancer as well as cancer of the mouth, lips, sinuses, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, colon and bladder.

The University of Kansas Cancer Center stands firmly behind efforts to reduce cancer in our region. Our Cancer Control & Population Health research program scientists have recently received significant funding from the NCI to conduct smoking cessation trials throughout the state. We know 31% of all cancers could be eradicated if people no longer smoked, and we strive to see a minimum 20% decrease in the use of tobacco over the next 15 years.

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