To the Editor:
We support H7825 and S2322 which would ban the use of indoor tanning devices by children and adolescents under the age of 18. This legislation is designed to protect Rhode Island’s young people from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and is based on significant scientific evidence that indoor tanning is undeniably linked to an increased risk of developing the disease and other forms of skin cancer.
This legislation is needed now. A ban for minors is essential because parental consent laws are not working, and, according to a recent report released by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, indoor tanning salons are making false health claims and misleading their customers, especially minors. The Indoor Tanning Association, an umbrella group for the thousands of tanning salons in the United States, was barred in 2010 by the Federal Trade Commission from making false and misleading health claims regarding indoor tanning, claims that are nearly identical to those promoted by the owners of Sunkisst Tans in a recent letter to the Warwick Beacon.
Prohibiting the use of indoor tanning beds for all children and teens under the age of 18 is critical to preventing future skin cancers as survey data indicate that use of these devices increases with each year of adolescence. Opponents’ recent assertion that dermatologists would benefit financially from passage of this legislation is absurd and unfounded.
If the Rhode Island House of Representatives does not follow the lead of the State Senate and pass these bills, it will send a message to the entire country that Rhode Island is apathetic toward and reckless about the health of our children. We do not allow children to smoke tobacco, even if their parents provide consent. We should protect our children from other cancer-causing agents, such as UV radiation from indoor tanning devices.
We strongly urge the chairman of the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee, Representative Joseph McNamara, to do the right thing and bring H7825 and S2322 forward for a vote by the committee. It is our collective hope that he and the full committee will support this crucial legislation to help protect young people from the health risks associated with indoor tanning. If signed into law, this bill would potentially save lives.
Daniel M. Siegel, MD, FAAD
President, American Academy of Dermatology Association
Jason Neustadter, MD
Melanoma Survivor, Member, American Academy of Dermatology Association &
Chief Resident in Dermatology, Brown University
Martin Weinstock, MD, FAAD
Professor of Dermatology and Professor of Epidemiology, Brown University
Lionel Bercovitch, MD, FAAD
Director of Pediatric Dermatology, Hasbro Children's Hospital &
President, Rhode Island Dermatology Society
Susan Weinkle, MD
President, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association
Brett M. Coldiron, MD, FAAD
President, American College of Mohs Surgery
Henry W. Clever, MD, FAAD
President, American Society for Mohs Surgery
Maria Garzon, MD
President, Society for Pediatric Dermatology
Chair, Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation
Sandra Read, MD, FAAD
Co-Chair, National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention