Support Grows for Tan Ban
As victims share stories, experts agree that indoor tanning is dangerous and causes cancer
Albany, NY (May 24, 2011) - The American Cancer Society is calling on New York State to ban the tan for kids under 18.
Lawmakers and advocates gathered today at the Capitol to voice an increasing support for legislation (S.2917/A.1074) that protects minors from a known cancer-causing agent. The so called "tan ban" would prohibit the use of indoor tanning beds by minors under the age of 18. New York would be the first state in the nation to enact this safeguard.
The group was joined by Jennifer Sullivan, a melanoma survivor who used indoor tanning extensively in her teens and Colette Coyne, a skin cancer awareness activist whose daughter died of melanoma.
"Tanning beds are not safe for anyone, let alone kids, and I have the scar to prove this," said Jennifer Sullivan, melanoma survivor and American Cancer Society employee. "When I was young, I thought I knew it all and none of it fazed me. I used indoor tanning often to get that nice bronze tan before proms and other occasions. Little did I know that 10-15 years later I'd be the first person in my family to be diagnosed with skin cancer."
The bills have the support of more than a dozen organizations, including leaders in the medical arena such as Roswell Park Cancer Institute, The Cancer Center Leadership Group of the New York State Cancer Consortium, the American Academy of Dermatology Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Roswell Park Cancer Institute supports this legislation prohibiting access to artificial tanning devices by children under age 18," said Nathalie Zeitouni, MDCM, FRCPC, Chief of Dermatologic Surgery and Associate Professor of Dermatology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. "Despite the many warnings about the dangers of indoor tanning, teenagers continue to account for a large percentage of this industry's consumers. At Roswell Park, we have seen a noticeable increase in young patients presenting with melanoma who have a history of using tanning booths. Tanning beds, according to the World Health Organization, are as dangerous as tobacco, asbestos and uranium. We simply can’t ignore the relationship between indoor tanning and skin cancer."
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) places indoor tanning in the highest cancer risk category - group 1 - 'carcinogenic to humans.’ UV radiation is in the same classification as arsenic, asbestos, benzene, dioxin, mustard gas, tobacco smoke and vinyl chloride.
"Use of tanning beds before age 30 increases risk of melanoma by 75 percent," said Donald Distasio, CEO, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ. "When we're young, we think we're invincible. Nothing can touch us. But the truth is, just like with youth tobacco use, frequenting indoor tanning facilities can lead to a bleak future filled with suffering and even death. It is clear that indoor tanning devices represent a severe health hazard. Thank you to Senator Fuschillo and Assemblymember Weisenberg for their work to protect New York's kids from a known killer."
“The only difference between cancer caused by tobacco use and tanning bed use is that melanoma skin cancer will take your life quicker,” said Colette Coyne of the Long Island-based Colette Coyne Melanoma Awareness Campaign, a Long Island foundation named for her daughter, the younger Colette Coyne, who died of melanoma in 1998. “Studies continue to show that the intense rays from beds can be deadly, yet unfortunately so many of our teens think they are safe. New York needs to act now to arm parents with the ability to say no to indoor tanning with the full force of the law behind them.”
Bills are pending on the Senate Floor and Assembly Codes Committee, having cleared both Health Committees with strong bi-partisan majorities.
“Tanning during teen years is sadly one of those things that many people live to regret. Research demonstrates that nearly a quarter of all sun induced skin damage has been inflicted by age 18. The serious harm to teens caused by indoor artificial tanning is 100% preventable and that’s why I’m sponsoring and pushing for the advancement of this critically important legislation this session,” said Assemblymember Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach).
“The weight of scientific evidence shows that salon tanning raises the risk of people being diagnosed with the three main types of skin cancer - basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma,” said Dr. Paul Hamlin, President, Medical Society of the State of New York. “Melanoma, the most commonly fatal form of skin cancer, makes up only 4% of skin cancers but is responsible for more than 80% of skin cancer deaths. The number of new cases of melanoma is rising rapidly, especially among young women. Current law fails to protect the majority of teenagers who visit tanning salons. A stronger law is needed.”
According to the American Cancer Society, this year about 68,130 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. and more than 8,700 people will die from melanoma. In New York State, it is estimated that more than 4,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin.
For more information from the American Cancer Society about skin cancer and the dangers of indoor tanning, log onto cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345.
ACS CAN: Support Tanning Reforms
Study Links Tanning Bed Use to Increased Risk of Melanoma
Letter: Indoor Tanning Raises Risks of Skin Cancer
Flickr: Pictures from Today's Press Event
About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.