Gov. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii recently signed legislation to protect minors from the risks of indoor tanning beds.
Hawaii has become the tenth state to enact legislation prohibiting minors under the age of 18 from tanning indoors, and it goes into effect immediately. Similar legislation has been passed in Vermont, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oregon, Nevada, Texas, and Washington.
Minors under the age of 18 who reside in Oregon or Washington may use indoor tanning if a physician’s prescription is obtained.
Minors under the age of 17 are not permitted to use indoor tanning beds in Connecticut, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) recently praised the state of Hawaii for its efforts to combat skin cancer, particularly melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
“The risk for developing melanoma increases by 59 percent in individuals who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning devices, and the risk increase with each subsequent use,” said board-certified Brett M. Coldiron, MD, FAAD, and president of the AADA in a press release. “Since 2.3 million teens tan indoors in the United States annually, restricting teens’ access to indoor tanning is critical to preventing skin cancer.”
The ban was supported by the AADA, AIM at Melanoma, American Cancer Society – Cancer Action Network, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association, Hawaii Department of Health, and the Hawaii Skin Cancer Coalition.
More than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed in more than 2 million people each year. Skin cancer affects one out of every five Americans, with more than 410 new cases of melanoma diagnosed in Hawaii in 2014.
According to the AADA, nearly 30 million Americans tan indoors each year. Teenagers account for 2.3 million of these.
According to experts from the US Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer, the amount of radiation produced during indoor tanning is comparable to that produced by the sun, and in some cases may be stronger.
Excessive UV radiation exposure in indoor tanning beds has been shown in studies to damage the skin’s DNA structure.
Excessive sun exposure, on the other hand, can cause premature skin aging, immune suppression, and eye damage, such as cataracts and ocular melanoma.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, indoor tanning beds and sunlamp exposure cause approximately 3,000 hospital emergency room visits each year.
Individuals diagnosed with any type of skin cancer face not only additional health complications, but also higher life and health insurance premiums due to the insurance company’s increased risk.