New Maryland legislation to protect youth from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is based on significant scientific evidence that indoor tanning before age 30 is undeniably linked to increased risk of developing the disease. Sen. James N. Robey and Delegate William A. Bronrott represent a broad-based coalition of 20 legislators in the Senate and House who are co-sponsoring cross-filed bills SB 718 and HB 1039 to prohibit minors’ use of tanning devices in tanning facilities, and to prevent marketing of these services to minors. Health organizations including the American Academy of Dermatology Association, American Cancer Society, Center for a Healthy Maryland and Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation (JMNMF), rally in firm support of this necessary legislation.
According to Sen. James Robey, originating sponsor of Senate Bill 718, “My district of Howard County, Md., has already led the nation in teen and adolescent safeguards from the well-documented cancer risks and irreversible skin damage caused by the UV-radiation of indoor tanning. This legislation will firmly place Maryland in lockstep with a broad coalition of health professionals, organizations, national agencies and the international community committed to protecting our youth.
Delegate Bill Bronrott, the House sponsor of HB 1039 stated, "Just as we protect our teen drivers from their own inexperience and false sense of invincibility, we need to protect minors from other harmful behaviors by following the advice of the World Health Organization and numerous other health organizations who support preventing teens exposure to harmful UV rays of tanning beds. Further, melanoma is one of the most common cancers diagnosed among young adults, and 40 percent of teenage girls are using tanning beds each year.
Under current Maryland law enacted in 2008, minors are permitted to use a tanning device at a tanning facility if a minor's parent or legal guardian signs a consent form. JMNMF President Greg Safko said, “The body of new evidence and reclassification of tanning beds in June 2009 by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), to their highest cancer risk category — ‘carcinogenic to humans’ — is an indisputable signal that regulatory constraints are necessary to prevent our youth’s access and active solicitation to prevent deadly melanoma skin cancer from occurring.”
Similarly, a recent study published in the International Journal of Cancer found an increase in the risk for melanoma in people who first use tanning facilities in their teen years and twenties. “Because of the unquestionable link between ultraviolet light exposure as a youth and the increase risk of developing skin cancer later in life, the American Cancer Society urges the Maryland general assembly to pass legislation prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 from using tanning facilities,” stated Bonita M. Pennino, MS, government relations director for the American Cancer Society.
A tan is a sign of injury to the skin. The thinner skin of children and teens is particularly vulnerable to damage from UV radiation. Recent studies show an alarming rise in the incidence of melanoma among young women in the United States since 1980, which may be attributable to the prevalence of tanning bed use by teens, reported to be up to 40 percent,” stated Roberta Herbst, program manager for the Center for a Healthy Maryland.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association applauds the Maryland House of Representatives and Maryland Senate for introducing legislation to protect its young people from the dangers associated with indoor tanning,” said dermatologist William D. James, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association. “Indoor tanning before the age of 35 has been associated with a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. This legislation has the potential to save lives if it becomes law, he said.
The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations with a membership of more than 16,000 physicians worldwide. 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.
The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy and service.
The Center for a Healthy Maryland is an affiliate of MedChi, The Maryland State Medical society. The Center’s mission is to advance the practice of medicine, enhance the quality of medical care, and promote the health of the citizens of the State of Maryland. The Center’s programs are directed at the public to improve health status, and also focus on quality improvement and education, with programs for physicians to help them to better serve their patients.
The Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation’s focuses efforts toward: medical research leading to a cure for melanoma; opportunities to educate the general public on prevention and the seriousness of melanoma; and, the development of resources for patients and the entire melanoma community. The Foundation is very instrumental as “the voice for melanoma prevention, detection, care and cure."