Illinois, U.S.A. – The state of New York took a positive step to protect youth from the dangers of skin cancer by prohibiting the use of indoor tanning beds by those 16 and younger, and requiring 17-year-olds to obtain parental consent. This law is based on significant scientific evidence that indoor tanning is undeniably linked to increased risk of developing melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.
“The American Academy of Dermatology Association commends New York for joining in the fight against melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and non-melanoma skin cancers. This law will help prevent skin cancer and reduce our country’s health care costs,” said Daniel M. Siegel, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association and a New York-based dermatologist. “Melanoma rates have been increasing for the last 30 years, with the most rapid increases occurring among young women, the primary users of indoor tanning. Prohibiting access to indoor tanning for young people helps limit this risky behavior before it can become a habit that continues through adolescence into adulthood.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill Monday, July 16, and it will go into effect in 30 days. In a statement, Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, a bill sponsor, said indoor tanning at an early age is one of those things people live to regret.
Additional support for the ban was provided by The Medical Society of the State of New York, American Cancer Society, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association, AIM at Melanoma, and the New York State Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery.
More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed annually. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. In fact, it is estimated that more than 4,700 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in New York in 2012.
“Prevention is one of the most valuable tools that we have as dermatologists. We need to continue educating patients about the risks of indoor tanning and encouraging healthy decisions to help prevent skin cancer,” said Dr. Siegel. “This law will protect children and adolescents from the health hazards of indoor tanning and send a strong message from the state that tanning is a dangerous behavior and should be avoided.”
New York is the latest state to pass legislation that limits the use of indoor tanning by young people. California and Vermont have passed laws prohibiting use by minors.
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.
In an effort to increase the public’s understanding of skin cancer and motivate people to change their behavior to prevent and detect skin cancer, the Academy launched the SPOT Skin Cancer public awareness initiative. Visit the SPOT Skin Cancer website — www.SpotSkinCancer.org — to learn how to perform a skin self-exam, download a body mole map for tracking changes on your skin, and find free skin cancer screenings in your area. Those affected by skin cancer also can share their story via the website and download free materials to educate others in their community.