By John Carruthers, staff writer, July 02, 2012
Following the American Academy of Dermatology Association’s 2010 Legislative Conference, Calgary, Alberta dermatologist Mike Kalisiak, MD, returned to his community determined to advocate for the restriction of indoor tanning for minors. He soon became the co-chair of the Indoor Tanning is Out Alberta Coalition, volunteering several hours a week to craft and disseminate information on the dangers of tanning to patients and the media.
“The media is generally more interested in what the patients have to say than what their physician does, which is great for putting out the personal side of the story.”
- Indoor Tanning is Out was formed to advance public education on the dangers of tanning, as well as explore the feasibility of pursuing a legislative solution in Alberta, a province that Dr. Kalisiak describes as fairly conservative regarding regulation.
- “After coming back to Canada, I was inspired to organize a journal club on the topic of indoor tanning because of the progress being made in the United States. Once you start talking about it, it’s only a matter of time before you begin to be put in touch with others with the same interest and start trying to get things done.”
- The coalition applied for a $400,000 grant from the province’s health care agency to create educational messaging on tanning beds. The group used a portion of the funding to construct a public information site — thebigburn.ca — that features a wealth of easily accessible public health information and resources for patients to begin spreading information and advocating for new restrictions on tanning devices.
- Every few weeks, the organization puts out a major news release. As a result, a recent reader poll by the Calgary Sun showed that around 90 percent of the public favored restricting indoor tanning for minors. Dr. Kalisiak called the result “remarkable.”
- At the provincial level, the government has formed a committee to look at the tanning bed issue, with the possibility of introducing legislation soon. Quebec and British Columbia both plan to tackle the issue legislatively, too.
- “Through collaboration with other organizations, and given the climate both here and in the U.S., I think our efforts have gotten us pretty far. I know that things might advance slower for us, but I hope for the best.”
To nominate a physician, visit www.aad.org/membersmakingadifference.