Protect our kids from danger of tanning beds

To the editor:

I’m writing in response to the article “Laws could limit minors,” (April 30) regarding teen tanning bed use. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network supports House Bill 977, which would prevent those under age 18 from using tanning beds.

Pennsylvanians of all ages should know about the risks of tanning. Tanning as a teen or young adult greatly increases the risk of skin cancer, including deadly melanoma. An estimated 3,890 persons will be diagnosed with melanoma in Pennsylvania this year, and close to 500 people will die from the disease. This risk of developing melanoma is also increasing. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the incidence of melanoma in the state rose by 58 percent between 2000 and 2009.

Like cigarettes and asbestos, UV tanning beds are a known human carcinogen and are classified as such by the World Health Organization. We protect our minors from the dangers of cigarettes and alcohol by placing restrictions on them, and we should do the same with indoor tanning. While I would encourage everyone to stay out of tanning beds, our kids should not be given a choice.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has an opportunity to save lives with House Bill 977. I urge our lawmakers to pass this legislation and help prevent skin cancer among our young people.

Diane Phillips

Senior Director, Pennsylvania State and Federal Policy

American Cancer Society

Cancer Action Network