Friday, May 8, 2015

Notebook Page 4 April 2015

SLA Phil Moilanen Starting
Lobby Day
Last week, ACS CAN and its volunteers took Lansing by storm with its annual Lobby Day at the Michigan Captiol. Cancer and tobacco prevention funding was on the minds of the volunteers and staff who took part in the annual event. ACS CAN had a total of 86 volunteers and staff from across the state made the trip to Lansing to speak with their lawmakers.

This year, our main speaker was Dr. Eden Wells from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Wells laid the foundation for the meetings with lawmakers that were slated to happen later that day with her presentation on the epidemiology of cancer throughout Michigan.

Lung cancer still continues to be the number-one killer in Michigan when it comes to cancer. Smoked tobacco usage rates continue to fall in Michigan, but with the introduction of e-cigarettes, the trend is shifting from smoked to "vaping." The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also reported that teenagers’ use of e-cigarettes has risen over the past few years. This is causing young people to become addicted to nicotine and move on to other tobacco products.

Jennifer Varner with
Matt Phelan with her
Volunteer of the Year Award
Now it was time to know why we were in Lansing. Sarah Pagano, a cancer survivor, shared her story with the group, bringing perspective on why our work was so needed. Sarah's story of strength brought an electricity to the room, charging up those who were going to be talking to lawmakers that day.

Following Sarah’s remarks, we awarded our Volunteer of the Year Award to Jennifer Varner, an ACT lead from Freeland. Jennifer has worked tirelessly to further the mission of ACS CAN and the fight against cancer. It was only fitting that she would receive the award this year. 

Now armed with information, our volunteers were ready for the House members to join them for lunch. Lawmakers and staff filled the room to hear volunteers’ personal cancer stories and why the Legislature needed to prioritize the fight against this disease. . There was support from many House members for the increase in funding for the cancer and tobacco prevention programs in Michigan.
ACS CAN Volunteer Jay Kalisky with
Rep. Michael McCready

From there, ACS CAN members met with senators and their staff to talk about the need for cancer and tobacco prevention funding. Afterward, we met back at the Capitol to rally around why we were in Lansing that day. Joining us was Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley. He was there on behalf of the governor to support our efforts in raising the bar for cancer prevention and discuss the importance being actively engaged in the legislative process.

At the end of the day, we had an opportunity to present the ACS CAN Distinguished
Group photo with Lt. Governor Calley
after the rally.
Advocacy Award to Governor Snyder in his office. Since the governor was not able to attend the rally, he asked that we stop by for a quick chat in his office and to take a photo of the group with him receiving the award. Governor Snyder has been a great champion for ACS CAN by supporting the Healthy Michigan Plan, restoring cancer prevention funding in his budget this year and vetoing the tobacco industry's attempt to classify e-cigarettes as something other than a tobacco product. 

ACS CAN presents our Distinguished Advocate Award
to Governor Rick Snyder
Wrapping up the day, many approached us and explained how they truly enjoyed Lobby Day this year and felt it was extremely effective. We have already seen the positive effects with many lawmakers talking about cancer and tobacco prevention in Michigan.

Thank you to all of those who made the trip the Lansing to speak to your lawmakers! Your voice made a difference in the fight against cancer. Remember that there is still more to do. Contact us or watch for e-mails talking about coffee hours, or set up meetings in your hometown to meet with your lawmakers. We need to continue to keep cancer prevention on the forefront lawmakers’ minds.