05 March 2012

American Academy of Dermatology Association disappointed in delayed vote on Idaho indoor tanning legislation

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (March 3, 2012) —The Idaho Dermatology Society (IDS) and the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) are disappointed in the postponement of the vote by the Idaho House of Representatives on House Bill 486, which would ban the use of indoor tanning beds by minors under the age of 18. The vote was postponed due to the objections of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which raised concerns that passage of the bill would financially benefit dermatologists who would prescribe tanning sessions for certain skin conditions, rather than allowing teens to tan on their own.

“The issues raised about this legislation are absolutely ridiculous and dermatologists are disappointed that the Idaho House of Representatives would give more credit to these ludicrous concerns than the health and well-being of young adults in the state,” said Ronald L. Moy, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association. “The purpose of this legislation is to prevent future skin cancers. Scientific evidence demonstrates a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning. Dermatologists will ultimately lose money should this bill pass because of the reduction in future skin cancers. This is the type of revenue loss that dermatologists would welcome.”

The main concern raised by the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s accusations is the difference between indoor tanning and medical UV and light therapy, also known as phototherapy. Phototherapy devices provide medical treatment for serious skin conditions and are regulated by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as a medical device. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from tanning beds and sun lamps is recognized as a known carcinogen by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, but the purpose of tanning beds is cosmetic and, therefore, not regulated by the FDA as a medical device. 

“Indoor tanning beds are not designed to treat serious skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo and so forth,” said Lindsay D. Sewell, MD, FAAD, president of the Idaho Dermatology Society. “In sharp contrast, phototherapy devices used in dermatologists’ offices are designed to treat these medical conditions by delivering a lesser amount of ultraviolet light than tanning beds. We are not competitors with the tanning industry, and we have no conflict of interest with this bill. We are specially trained to treat skin conditions with medically necessary UV radiation.”

Dr. Sewell added, “This legislation should move forward immediately. Every day that teens are allowed access to indoor tanning salons increases their risks 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 the course of a 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 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.