Today, the New York City Board of Health voted to save lives when they approved new rules allowing the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to regulate indoor tanning facilities. The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) commends the city’s leadership for taking an unambiguous step in calling out the dangers of indoor tanning and protecting the health and safety of its citizens.
The City’s actions reflect important public health learnings from the issue of tobacco use. Over the last several decades, better awareness and understanding of the dangers of tobacco and industry tactics in marketing a dangerous product to consumers, especially vulnerable youth, provides important parallels for those organizations, like the MRF, working to reduce the burden of melanoma. Similar to tobacco, tanning has been proven to increase the risk of cancer, has addictive properties and holds strong appeal to young people who are told they need a tan to be cool, glamorous and beautiful.
Just as this awareness around tobacco products prompted action to reduce the number of lives lost, the Department of Health’s action today reflects the need to raise awareness and make sure any person using tanning beds fully understands the risk of developing the deadliest form of skin cancer. By assuming the regulation, the licensure, operation and inspection of these facilities, the NYC Department of Health is positioned to uphold the city’s dedication to the well-being of New Yorkers.
The dangers of tanning beds are well-documented in research, and the role of tanning bed use in the rising rate of melanoma diagnoses is clear:
- The risk of developing melanoma increases by 75 percent for individuals who have been exposed to radiation from indoor tanning beds, and the risk increases with each use
- Melanoma is the deadliest and most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old, and
- It is the second most common cancer for adolescents and young adults, ages 15-29
The MRF is the largest independent organization devoted to melanoma. Committed to the support of medical research in finding effective treatments and eventually a cure for melanoma, the MRF also educates patients and physicians about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of melanoma. Yet, the positive impact that the MRF and our volunteers can have in reducing the burden of this disease is significantly hampered by heavy marketing and misinformation supported by the tanning industry. Raising awareness of this risk is critical to reducing the number of new melanoma cases we see each year. The MRF hopes other public health entities will look to the NYC Board of Health’s decision as a helpful model for action in their own communities.
Contact: Berna Diehl, 202-591-4045
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