MRF Blog

Buying Cancer with Influence

October 4, 2012 | Categories: Policy

We are in the middle of another election cycle and much of the conversation is on how much money is being spent on campaigns.  In this context, a recent blog by Leif Vasström, President of the Indoor Tanning Association (ITA), is particularly intriguing.

Looking back over his first year as President, this leader of the trade association for tanning salons claims tremendous victories.  Vasström notes:

“The ITA's deliberately orchestrated expansion of its political outreach arguably has been our greatest accomplishment over this past year…..” 

These efforts have focused on raising money for members of Congress, and on building personal relationships with those members.  He’s quite proud to report:

“These efforts paid off handsomely this summer when our enemies in Congress were thwarted as they tried to force the FDA to place additional restrictions on sunlamps and sunbeds.”

I know that this is the way the political game is played.  I know that money buys influence—none of us are naïve in this regard.  The fact is, however, the ITA is peddling a carcinogen and they are targeting young women and men in their marketing efforts.  This is not a game.  It is a matter of life and death, of wellness and health. 

The job of every voter is to hold elected officials accountable to decision-making that reflects true public serviceand  integrity. And what is that right decision?  Very simple:

·         Push the FDA to regulate tanning beds more stringently.  They are now classified in the same category as tongue depressors.

·         Pass federal legislation banning the use of tanning beds by minors, except in the case of medical need.

The ITA has money and lobbyists, but we have the voice of the melanoma community.  I am convinced that the power and passion of dedicated people who have been in the trenches with this cancer can prevail over the wealth and influence of the ITA.

So, this election season, call your representatives.  Ask them what they’re doing to support smart, sensible legislation that will reduce the skyrocketing rates of one of the deadliest cancers.

Together we can do what influence brokers cannot do, and can take important steps to protect the health of our young adults.

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