NEW YORK, Dec. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, a new coalition led by the United States largest professional sunbed centers announced the formation of the American Suntanning Association (ASA) as a values-based organization dedicated to increasing public awareness about the facts associated with moderate ultraviolet (UV) exposure and spray-on tanning, correcting misinformation about sunlight and sunbeds while raising the professional standards in American sun tanning centers.
"It is time to have a higher-level discussion about UV light from the sun and from sunbeds," said Bart Bonn, ASA board president and owner of Ashley Lynn's Tanning based in Omaha. "The ASA is going to be a constructive party in that discussion, demanding a consumer-first conversation differentiating proper sun care from blatant overstatements about the risks of UV exposure."
Of primary concern: Many studies about sunbed usage don't actually study professional sunbed salons, but rather include sunbeds used to treat cosmetic conditions in doctors' offices and unmonitored home-based tanning units. When home and medical sunbeds are removed from these studies, the risk connected to professional salons virtually disappears. (Medical usage of sunbeds in doctor's offices to treat cosmetic skin disease often involves intentional sunburn - sometimes even blistering sunburn.) Organizations that have promoted these studies haven't disclosed this critical distinction and have ignored many other confounding factors.
"There are many misconceptions about the risks associated with indoor tanning," said ASA Board Member Diane Lucas, president of Palm Beach Tan, a national salon chain based in Dallas. "One of the primary roles of the ASA is to address and factually dispel these myths and educate the public about intelligent, practical sun care for tanners and non-tanners."
ASA will appeal to consumers through its web site (www.AmericanSuntanning.org) to balance the message and will work with state and federal regulators for constructive regulations that underscore operational protocol already embraced by professional sunbed centers.
"Consumers who choose to tan - and it should be their choice - need to be able to do so based on correct information about the potential benefits and risks of UV exposure," said ASA member Jan Meshon, owner of City Sun Tanning in New York City. "When organizations who benefit by improperly vilifying all UV exposure compare the manageable risks of sunlight to arsenic and plutonium in public statements, something's seriously wrong. We need to correct that, and ASA is already working constructively to do so."
In 2012 an estimated 30 million Americans will visit a professional sunbed center -- the vast majority of which are family-owned. Two-thirds of the 14,000 U.S. sunbed salons are female-owned businesses, employing about 150,000.
"The professional sunbed salon community is present in every American community and has become an important part of local small business economies as good employers," said ASA Board member Rick Kueber, CEO of Sun Tan City, a national chain based in Elizabethtown, Kent. "That's why it's important that the sunbed salon market elevates the balanced conversation about UV exposure and steps up to provide accurate education and information about responsible indoor tanning to our clients."
Underscoring the need for balance in the UV conversation: Approximately 3 million sunbed salon patrons are referred to salons by their doctors annually.
"At a time when many in health care are realizing that extreme and misleading 'UV abstinence' messaging has gone too far, the ASA is promoting the correct moderate message about a common-sense approach to UV exposure, whether indoors in a salon or outdoors under the sun," said ASA Board Member Doug McNabb, owner of Fabutan Suntan Studios based in Calgary, who also serves as president of the Joint Canadian Tanning Association, which promotes the same constructive message. "It's clear that overzealous sun avoidance is unnatural and has led to vitamin D deficiency in all of North America. That's one reason proper discussion of the balanced message about UV exposure needs to take place."
The ASA will issue research and reports to support an open and honest dialogue with the public, media, the health care community and elected officials about the truth behind responsible tanning.
A volunteer-driven organization, ASA includes members from all 50 states. ASA members will work with legislators and health care officials at the local, state and federal level to support constructive regulation that underscores operational protocol already embraced by professional sunbed centers.
For more information about ASA visit www.AmericanSuntanning.org.
The American Suntanning Association (ASA) is the largest network of professional businesses dedicated to providing responsible indoor tanning services while increasing public awareness about the facts associated with moderate UV and spray-on tanning.
The ASA educates the public about the many benefits of moderate indoor tanning while acknowledging the risks associated with over-exposure and other factors. The ASA works closely with doctors, state and federal governments to provide a positive experience for the 30 million Americans who enjoy responsible indoor tanning.
SOURCE American Suntanning Association (ASA)