A 15-year-old effort to pass legislation that bans children from receiving carcinogenic ultraviolet exposure from indoor tanning facilities may finally be coming to fruition. Pennsylvania House Bill 1259 sponsored by state Rep. Frank Farry prohibits indoor tanning for children under the age of 17 and requires parental consent for 17-year-olds. In addition, HB 1259 mandates the licensure of facilities, posting of health warnings to indoor tanners and requires state inspections for this unregulated industry.
Pennsylvania is the only state east of the Mississippi that has not passed legislation protecting our children from the dangers of indoor tanning. In fact, 40 states already have some restriction on childhood indoor tanning. With prom season approaching, teens will be targeted by the indoor tanning industry to get that “healthy glow” without understanding the long-term health implications.
Ultraviolet light from indoor tanning is a known carcinogen that promotes premature aging, lowers our immune system and increases the risk of skin cancer. Individuals who have tanned in a tanning booth before the age of 35 have a 75 percent increased risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
As a Pittsburgh dermatologist, I, along with my staff, see our region’s skin cancer epidemic on a daily basis. As a parent, I support legislation that prevents skin cancer in our youth. Please contact your state legislator today and ask him or her to support passage of HB 1259.
JUSTIN VUJEVICH, M.D.
The writer is president, Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery.