What is the State Cancer Legislative Database (SCLD)?

The SCLD is a program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) that has monitored and analyzed cancer-related state legislation since 1989. In 2005, the NCI began providing users with online access to the searchable database.
Why was the SCLD developed?

The SCLD was developed to help further one of the goals of the NCI: the support of research projects in cancer control. Using SCLD data, researchers may examine and compare cancer-related legislation within and across the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
For whom was the SCLD designed?

Researchers are the primary database users. SCLD data are also useful for policy-makers and other individuals seeking information about state laws addressing specific cancer control topics. The SCLD is a resource for Federal and state agencies, Congress, health departments, universities and research centers, professional organizations, and the public.
What types of information does the SCLD provide?

The SCLD contains information synthesized from enacted state-level laws and resolutions addressing selected aspects of cancer control, health disparities, genetics, and tobacco. (For a detailed list of the types of information not contained in the SCLD, click here). Also included are the few relevant state ballot initiatives that have been used to affect tobacco product excise taxes.

SCLD records are based on program syntheses of relevant laws. These syntheses (or “abstracts”) do not contain the full text of the laws. Full text may be obtained from state sources and legal research services.

Laws included in the SCLD are substantive laws and amendments. These include changes to the actions required or prohibited by the law, penalties, repeals of the law or portions of the law, and changes to a law’s expiration date.

Because of the volume of enacted laws, minor amendments to laws are not reported. The data included in the SCLD have been deemed substantive pursuant to program protocols.

Users have the option of viewing lists of data or detailed abstracts; they also may download information into PDF documents or Excel spreadsheets.
What areas of cancer-related policy does the SCLD address?

The SCLD contains records related to:

access to state-of-the-art treatment
breast cancer
cancer registries (surveillance)
cervical cancer
colorectal cancer
health disparities
ovarian cancer
prostate cancer
skin cancer
testicular cancer
tobacco control
uterine cancer

The SCLD also maintains limited information about state laws and resolutions addressing general cancer issues, including health-related treatment and access to state-of-the art treatment.
What kinds of information are not available in the SCLD?

The SCLD does not contain:

Federal legislation or regulations
state bills that have been introduced but not enacted
state regulations
Executive orders
measures implemented by counties, cities, or other localities
decisions of Federal, State*, or local courts
opinions of Attorneys General
data addressing the implementation of state laws

*One exception exists to the omission of state-level court decisions. In the area of Tobacco Use/Smoke-Free Air, very few state court decisions have affected the application of preemption in the state. In these instances, information regarding case law has been captured in the Notes section of the relevant Year-End Status record.
What kinds of questions can be answered with SCLD data?

Keyword or text-based searches of the database allow the user to answer questions such as:

Which states require insurers to provide reimbursement for screening mammography?
How many states have enacted laws addressing genetic discrimination by employers, and what is the extent of those provisions?
Over the past 5 years, which states have enacted legislation affecting tobacco excise tax rates?
What are the taxes in each state?
Are states that require insurance coverage for clinical trials in close proximity to one another?

What is the difference between a general legislation record and a year-end status record?

The SCLD is comprised of two related databases: General Legislation and Year-End Status.
General Legislation

A general legislation record contains an abstract of either an enacted law or an adopted resolution.
Enacted Law

Laws are considered “enacted” after passing in both the House and Senate (in states with bicameral legislatures) and being signed into law by the governor, or voted into law by an override vote of the governor’s veto.

A topically related general legislation records from the same state are grouped together into a “stream” (i.e., connected by the same Reference number).
Adopted Resolution

Resolutions generally state the position of the legislature on a particular issue and do not carry the force of law. They are considered “adopted” after passage by the chamber in which the resolution was introduced. In states with bicameral legislatures (i.e., a House and a Senate), “joint” resolutions are passed by both the House and Senate. The governor’s signature is not required.
Year-End Status

A year-end status record contains an abstract of the relevant portion(s) of a state law, using as its source the codified version of a state’s law. It provides a “snapshot” of the law as of December 31st of the year of interest. Each year-end status record incorporates information from the associated general legislation records. Year-end statuses are not created for adopted resolutions, as those measures are not codified.

Please note that not all legislation records have corresponding year-end statuses. No year-end status record is created in the following situations:

A state enacts more than one law on the same topic in the same year. In such cases, only one year-end status record is created for that year; however, it incorporates information from all related general legislation records.
A state enacts a law during one calendar year, but delays the effective date until the following (or subsequent) year. In this case, a year-end-status record is created for the year in which the law takes effect.

Note: for laws enacted on or after January 1, 2005, the year in which the law becomes effective can be found in the Effective Date field of each general legislation record. Prior to 2005, effective dates were included in the body of the general legislation record, and only if the date was explicitly mentioned in the bill or could be calculated from information provided in the bill (e.g., “This bill becomes effective 90 days after being enacted into law”).
What years do the laws in the SCLD cover?

The years of coverage in the SCLD vary both by primary topic area and by database (i.e., General Legislation vs. Year-End Status).

Comprehensiveness of coverage does not correspond to the oldest law in any given topic area. The General Legislation database contains, for example, a Tobacco Use Excise Tax abstract that dates back to 1866, but SCLD coverage of tobacco topics has been deemed comprehensive—pursuant to SCLD protocols—from 1960. For all other primary topic areas, coverage has been deemed comprehensive from the year listed in the “Baseline” column in the table below. The “baseline” is the first year for which year-end status records were added to the database.

For most primary topics, the earliest year for which SCLD Program staff compiled a Year-End Status was 2002; coverage is deemed comprehensive from 2002. The following table lists the baseline year for the remaining primary topic areas in the SCLD.
Year-End Status Records
Primary Keyword

Starting Point

Breast Cancer


Cancer (general)


Health Disparities


Cervical Cancer


Colorectal Cancer




Health-Related Treatment


Ovarian Cancer


Prostate Cancer


Skin Cancer


State-of-the-Art Treatment


State-of-the-Art Treatment (General)




Testicular Cancer


Tobacco Use: Advertising, Smoke-Free Air1, Excise Taxes, Out-of-Package Sales, Product Samples, Sale/Purchase/Possession, School Health, Smokers’ Rights, Vending Machines, Vendor Licensure, and Youth Access


All Other Tobacco Use


Uterine Cancer

Where can I find instructions for searching the SCLD?

Search Help
How often will the information available on the SCLD Web site be updated?

Routine updating of the General Legislation database and Web site occurs quarterly, usually in February, May, August, and November. Year-end statuses for years subsequent to 2003 are added annually, after SCLD Program staff complete analysis. Information of particular importance may be posted as it becomes available.
How can I be alerted when information on the SCLD Web site is updated?

Enter your e-mail address on the home page to sign up for automatic e-mail notification of updates to the Web site.
What is the source of the legal materials contained on the SCLD Web site?

The primary sources of SCLD legal materials are LexisNexis and State Net, online commercial legal research services. Supplementary information comes from state Web sites and other published sources. Additional information on this site—including data tables, fact sheets, newsletters, and presentations—is developed by SCLD Program staff.
How should I cite information from the SCLD Web site?

Materials from the SCLD Web site should be cited as follows: Source: National Cancer Institute: State Cancer Legislative Database Program, Bethesda, MD 2005.
How should I report a factual error or omission on the SCLD Web site?

The SCLD Program is interested in receiving your feedback. Please contact the SCLD Program [email protected] to report problems or questions with this site.
1As of February 12, 2008, SCLD replaced the phrase “clean indoor air” with “smoke-free air.”