Hawai‘i Legislature Passes Two Important Bills to Improve Lung Health for Adults and Children

The Hawai'i Legislature has taken bold action to improve the lung health of Hawai‘i residents with a pair of important bills that passed today. Senate Bills 2822 and 3367 aim to reduce incidences of unmanaged asthma in keiki, and increase lung cancer screenings in adults, respectively. Both bills were originally lead-authored by House Health Chair Ryan Yamane and their Senate companions were introduced by Senator Moriwaki and Senator Kidani, chair of the Senate Education Committee. 

“We are so grateful for Hawai'i Legislators who have taken the bold steps necessary to improve prevention and treatment of lung cancer and asthma in the state” said Pedro Haro, Executive Director for the American Lung Association in Hawai'i.  “Native Hawaiians bear the burden of lung disease in the state, having one of the highest new lung cancer rates, and school-aged children having higher levels of asthma than children on the continent. These bills will particularly help Native Hawaiian communities.” 

If signed by the Governor, Senate Bill 2822 will create a task force to increase early lung cancer screening in Hawai‘i. It would bring together community players, including government, nonprofits, health systems, health insurers, patient advocates, and educational institutions, to determine what steps are needed to increase Hawai‘i’s very low rate of early lung cancer screening and appropriate a quarter of a million dollars to complete this work. Senate Bill 2822 authorizes the Department of Education (DOE) to provide training to all Hawai‘i teachers on asthma and optional trainings for students with asthma as well as their parents. 

“Asthma and early lung cancer screening are two issues that are very important to me and to my colleagues in the legislature” said Representative Ryan Yamane, Chair of the House Committee on Health. “We have worked with the American Lung Association to draft these bills, and I believe it’s an important step to alleviate the devastation caused by lung disease in Hawai'i.”

According to the 2021 American Lung Association “State of Lung Cancer” report, Native Hawaiians have 126 new lung cancer cases per 100,000 people, significantly higher than the rate of 41 among Indigenous Peoples nationwide, and one of the highest rates of lung cancer of any group in the nation . In Hawai‘i, disparities in asthma prevalence are seen in race/ethnicity and region with Native Hawaiians being disproportionately affected by asthma and experiencing the greatest burden. Native Hawaiians have the highest asthma prevalence at 28.3% compared to Caucasians (17.1%), Chinese (16.4%), Filipino (20.5%), Japanese (17.7%), or other races/ethnicities(19.8%). 

1. American Lung Association, State of Lung Cancer, Hawaii. 2021 Accessible at:
https://www.lung.org/research/state-of-lung-cancer/states/hawaii

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Risk Youth Behavioral Survey, Hawaii, 2019

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