BOISE, Idaho (Feb. 20, 2012) —The American Academy of Dermatology Association and the Idaho Dermatology Society urge the Idaho state legislature to adopt House Bill (HB) 486, which bans the use of indoor tanning devices by minors under 18. The Idaho legislation is designed to protect youth from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and is based on significant scientific evidence that indoor tanning is undeniably linked to increased risk of developing the disease and other forms of skin cancer. The bill is being considered by the House Health and Welfare Committee, and is chiefly supported by Representative John Rusche, MD, (D-Lewiston), the House minority leader and ranking minority member on the committee.
“This legislation is needed now,” said Ronald L. Moy, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association. “A ban for minors is essential because parental consent laws are not working and, according to a recent report released by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, indoor tanning salons are not following existing laws. Prohibiting the use of indoor tanning beds for all youth under the age of 18 is critical to preventing future skin cancers as survey data indicate that use of these devices increases with each year of adolescencei,” he said.
“The Idaho Dermatology Society supports HB 486 because it will protect young people who do not fully understand that they are hurting themselves when they tan,” said Lindsay D. Sewell, MD, FAAD, president of the Idaho Dermatology Society. “If the Idaho legislature does not pass HB 486, it will send a message to the entire country that Idaho is apathetic toward and reckless about the health of our children. We do not allow children to smoke tobacco if they have parental consent. We should protect our children from other cancer-causing agents, such as UV radiation from indoor tanning devices,” he said.
In a statement to the Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee, Dr. Sewell said, “The 24-year-old woman I just diagnosed with melanoma wishes someone else had done something about tanning 15 years ago when she was too young to understand the issues and it wasn’t too late for her. As the leaders of our state, it is up to you who know better to watch out for those who do not.”
The United States lags behind other countries, including France, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and others, in prohibiting the use of tanning devices by minors. The state of California and Howard County, Maryland, are the only jurisdictions in the nation to currently prohibit access to tanning facilities by minors under 18.
Many states now are working on legislation to ban teens and young adults from accessing these carcinogenic devices. In addition to Idaho, the states of Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, Vermont and West Virginia are considering this proposal.
The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigation of indoor tanning salons documented the false health claims and misleading information being provided to customers, especially teens. The investigation found that nearly all indoor tanning salon staff contacted denied the known risks of indoor tanning, and four out of five salon staffs falsely claimed that indoor tanning is beneficial to a young person’s health.
“These blatantly false statements disregard the scientific evidence that demonstrates a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning,” said Suzanne M. Connolly, MD, FAAD, vice president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association, in response to the report.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services proclaimed in 2002 that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, is a known carcinogen. Yet, nearly 30 million people tan indoors in the United States annually. Of these, 2.3 million are teens.
Evidence from several studies has shown that exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning devices is associated with an increased risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and non-melanoma skin cancer, such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.
More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed annually. Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in his or her lifetime.
Melanoma incidence rates have been increasing for the last 30 years, with the most rapid increases occurring among young, white women: 3 percent per year since 1992 in those ages 15 to 39. From 2001 to 2005, Idaho had the highest melanoma death rate of any state in the nation — 26 percent higher than the national average. Additionally, about 40 deaths annually in Idaho are due to melanoma.
Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. A sister organization to the Academy, the American Academy of Dermatology Association is the resource for government affairs, health policy and practice information for dermatologists, and plays a major role in formulating policies that can enhance the quality of dermatologic care. With a membership of more than 17,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the Academy at 1 (888) 462-DERM (3376) or visit www.aad.org. Follow the Academy on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology) or Twitter (@AADskin).
For the last several decades, the Idaho Dermatology Society (IDS) has been steadily growing in numbers to its current size of about 40 dermatologists. The IDS is dedicated to providing the best quality skin care to patients through the treatment and prevention of skin cancer as well as all other dermatological conditions.
iMayer JA, Woodruff SI, Slymen DJ, Sallis JF, Forster JL, Clapp EJ et al. Adolescents' use of indoor tanning: a large-scale evaluation of psychosocial, environmental, and policy-level correlates. Am J Public Health 2011:101;930-8.