Ten Percent Tax on Tanning Beds Could Save Lives

Indoor Tanners at a Greater Risk to Develop Skin Cancer

July 1, 2010 (New York, NY) -
The new federal law taxing individuals who use tanning salons goes into effect today. This may discourage people from using tanning beds, which greatly increase a person's risk of developing skin cancer.

The latest study shows that indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors. The more time a person has spent tanning indoors, the higher the odds of developing the disease. According to the study, the type of tanning machine used affects melanoma risk - some tanners were 4.44 times as likely as non-tanners to develop melanoma.

Recently the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), affiliated with the World Health Organization, moved tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category, labeling them "carcinogenic to humans." This ranking puts tanning beds alongside other cancer-causing agents such as asbestos, arsenic and cigarettes.

"Data from the Centers for Disease Control show that for every ten percent price increase, cigarette consumption drops by three to four percent among adults and six to eight percent among young people," said Perry Robins, MD, President, The Skin Cancer Foundation. "We hope this tax will have the same effect on tanning bed use."

On an average day, more than one million Americans use tanning salons. Not only does tanning bed use greatly increase the risk of developing melanoma, but indoor tanners are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma, the two most common forms of skin cancer.

Additional Anti-Tanning Bed Measures in the US and Abroad

The tanning tax is only one step in the fight against tanning beds. In the US, California, Texas and at least 29 other states have passed their own legislation restricting use of tanning facilities by minors. The US Food and Drug Administration is considering enacting stricter regulations on tanning beds including a possible ban on use by minors.

In January the Indoor Tanning Association agreed to a settlement, after the Federal Trade Commission alleged that the association launched a misleading advertising campaign designed to portray indoor tanning as safe and beneficial. As part of the settlement the association must feature disclaimers in future advertisements, disclosing that indoor tanning may cause skin cancer. The settlement order was approved in May.

Laws have been passed around the world that monitor indoor tanning. Northern Europe, New Zealand, North America and even South America have sought legislation to restrict tanning bed use, especially among young people. The Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency banned UV cosmetic tanning altogether nationwide - the only country to have taken such a sweeping step to date. All five major states in Australia have banned access to tanning beds for everyone under age 18.

France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal, and the province of New Brunswick in Canada all limit sunbed use for people under age 18. In France, all UVR-emitting devices must be declared to the National Health Authority; trained personnel must supervise all commercial establishments, and any claim that they provide health benefits is forbidden. Along with banning minors from using sunbeds, Scotland has mandated that all sunbed salons be supervised, with proper information provided to customers.

The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only global organization solely devoted to the prevention, detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer through public and professional education and research. For more information, visit www.SkinCancer.org.