Owen H. Johnson

June 18, 2012

Legislation Would Prohibit Teens Ages 16 and Under from Using Indoor UV Tanning Devices

    The New York State Senate today passed legislation, sponsored by Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick), to help protect teens from the dangers of skin cancer.  The legislation (S2917A) would strengthen the state’s indoor tanning law by prohibiting teens ages 16 and under from using indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices.  

    “Research has shown that indoor UV tanning can significantly increase the chances of developing skin cancer and that the rays produced by indoor tanning machines are far more intense than those produced by the sun.  Children are not always concerned with the long-term effects of their decisions, which is why adults have a responsibility to act and keep them safe.  This legislation would help protect children from something that could cause them serious harm later in life,” said Senator Fuschillo, who also authored the State’s original teen indoor tanning law.

    Medical experts have repeatedly warned about the potential dangers associated with indoor tanning.  Indoor tanning before age 30 increases a person’s chances of getting cancer by 75 percent, according to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).  UV emitting indoor tanning devices are classified by the IARC in the highest level of cancer risk (Group 1), “carcinogenic to humans,” placing them in the same category as asbestos, benzene, and cigarette smoke.  Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics noted that the intensity of ultraviolet-A radiation produced by large, powerful tanning units are 10-15 times higher than that of the midday sun.

    Skin Cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.  According to the American Cancer Society, more than 4,700 New Yorkers will be diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, this year.  Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.

    The legislation is widely supported by a number of health and advocacy organizations, including the American Cancer Society; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Academy of Dermatology Association; Medical Society of the State of New York; National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention; New York State Academy of Family Physicians; and the Colette Coyne Melanoma Awareness Campaign.

    Blair Horner, Vice President for Advocacy, American Cancer Society, Eastern Division said: "Indoor tanning causes cancer in too many people and children are at the greatest risk.  According to research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 10 percent of 14 year olds, 12 percent of 15 year olds and 15 percent of 16 year olds have used indoor tanning facilities.  By banning indoor tanning for those 16 years old and younger, this measure provides significant cancer protections for those teens. Senator Fuschillo deserves much credit for his willingness to take on this important public health issue. The Senator's work will help reduce the number of skin cancers that result from needless indoor tanning. The American Cancer Society believes that 17 year olds deserve the same protections as other minors and we will continue next year to pursue legislation to protect all young people from the dangers of indoor tanning.

    The legislation has also been passed by the Assembly and will be sent to Governor Cuomo for consideration.