Maryland Legislation Introduced to Prohibit Indoor Tanning for Minors

Feb 08, 2012, 15:11 ET from American Academy of Dermatology

Senate & House Hearings to Consider Greater Protection of Youth

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Feb. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- State Senator Jamie Raskin, Delegate Kirill Reznik and Delegate Mary Ann Love joined 11 additional legislators in the Maryland State Senate and House of Delegates in co-sponsoring Senate Bill 213 and House Bill 207 to prohibit use of tanning devices by minors under the age of 18.  The Maryland legislation is designed to protect youth from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and is based on significant scientific evidence that indoor tanning is undeniably linked to increased risk of developing the disease. Health organizations including the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA), MedChi – The Maryland State Medical Society, American Cancer Society, and the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation (JMNMF), firmly support this crucial legislation.

The state of California and Howard County, Maryland, are the only jurisdictions in the nation to currently prohibit access to tanning facilities by minors under 18.  The United States lags behind other countries, including France, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and others, in prohibiting the use of tanning devices by minors.  Under current Maryland law enacted in 2008, minors are permitted to use a tanning device at a tanning facility if a minor's parent or legal guardian signs a consent form.

The Maryland legislation was introduced one week after the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee's investigation of indoor tanning salons which documented the false health claims and misleading information being provided to customers, especially minors. The investigation found that nearly all indoor tanning salons contacted denied the known risks of indoor tanning, and four out of five salons falsely claimed that indoor tanning is beneficial to a young person's health.

"These blatantly false statements disregard the scientific evidence that demonstrates a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning," said Suzanne M. Connolly, M.D., FAAD, vice president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association. "The AADA applauds the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates for introducing this legislation to protect its young people from the health risks associated with indoor tanning and, if signed into law, to potentially save lives."

According to Senator Jamie Raskin, originating sponsor of Senate Bill 213, "We ban smoking and drinking alcohol for young people under 18 in Maryland because these activities are inherently dangerous for them and we should ban indoor tanning for young people under 18 for the same reason. Research confirms that tanning indoors increases your risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.  I'm proud to be standing with the doctors, dermatologists and American Cancer Society to say that this is a form of childhood recreation we can do without in Maryland."

Delegate Kirill Reznik, the House sponsor of House Bill 207, stated, "This is common sense legislation that protects our state's youth from cancer and other harmful diseases, by following the advice of numerous health organizations, both in the U.S. and abroad, such as the World Health Organization, who support preventing teens' exposure to the harmful UV rays of tanning beds."

"A tan is a sign of injury to the skin. Recent studies show an alarming rise in the incidence of melanoma among young women in the U.S. since 1980, which may be attributable to the prevalence of tanning bed use by teens, reported to be up to 40 percent," stated JMNMF President Greg Safko.

Gene Ransom, chief executive officer for MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society, noted, "In December, newly published data demonstrated use of indoor tanning beds was associated with a 69 percent increased risk of early-onset basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer.  Risk was higher in those who begin indoor tanning at earlier ages."

Finally, a recent study published in the International Journal of Cancer found an increase in the risk for melanoma in people who first use tanning facilities in their teen years and twenties.  "Because of the unquestionable link between UV exposure as a youth and the increased risk of developing skin cancer later in life, the American Cancer Society urges the Maryland General assembly to pass legislation prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 from using tanning facilities," stated Bonita M. Pennino, MS, Government Relations Director for Maryland and the District of Columbia for the American Cancer Society.

The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations with a membership of more than 16,000 physicians worldwide. 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.

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service.

MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society, is a non-profit organization whose goal is to serve as Maryland's foremost advocate and resource for physicians, their patients and the public health.

The Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation's focuses efforts toward: medical research leading to a cure for melanoma; opportunities to educate the general public on prevention and the seriousness of melanoma; and, the development of resources for patients and the entire melanoma community. The Foundation is very instrumental as "the voice for melanoma prevention, detection, care and cure."

SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology