HELENA, Mont. – April 5, 2019—The House Judiciary Committee has blocked a key public health bill from being voted on by the full House. Senate Bill (SB) 21 would restrict minors from indoor tanning. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and the Montana Academy of Dermatology speak out.
In response to today’s defeat, Kristin Page-Nei, Montana government relations director for ACS CAN, ACS CAN volunteer/melanoma survivor Taelor Anderson, and Charlotte Kutsch, MD, President of Montana Academy of Dermatology released the following statements:
Kristin Page-Nei, ACS CAN Montana Government Relations Director
“For four sessions in a row we have battled to save lives by passing this critically important legislation. This is a huge loss for public health and for Montanans.While melanoma accounts for only 1% of skin cancer cases, it causes most of skin cancer deaths. Research shows that indoor tanning use before the age of 35 increases melanoma risk by 59%.
“Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. and rates have been rising for the past 30 years. Montana has some of the highest melanoma rates in the country. The current increase in melanoma in adults is the result of exposure to UV radiation starting in childhood and young adult years. Therefore, preventing exposure to UV radiation as early as possible in a person’s life is critical. We ask the House Judiciary Committee to reconsider this life saving bill.”
Taelor Anderson, ACS CAN volunteer & Melanoma survivor
“The most recent data indicates that one in nine high school girls uses a tanning device, with numbers increasing to one in six by their senior year. I was one of those young girls getting into tanning beds on an almost daily basis. Sun burns were frequent, but I shrugged them off as the price to pay for getting a bronze glow. I fell for the myth that tanning devices were safer than the sun. Little did I know, I wasn’t just damaging my skin, I was setting myself up for a life-threatening cancer. That’s why I’m passionately speaking out in support of Senate Bill 21, which would restrict minors from using tanning beds. It could literally save lives.
“Most skin cancers are preventable. I’m outraged that lawmakers have blocked legislation to protect young people from skin cancer—just like we restrict the sale of tobacco to minors to prevent cancer later in life. I strongly urge you to contact your state senator and ask them to help pass this common-sense legislation. Montana should join the list of 17 states already taking action by prohibiting minors from using tanning beds.”
Charlotte Kutsch, MD, President of Montana Academy of Dermatology
“No amount of ultraviolet exposure from tanning beds is safe. There is no such thing as a safe tan. I am so disheartened and shocked by today’s action by the House Judiciary Committee. In my practice, I treat numerous patients with skin cancer, and many of them have used tanning beds prior to seeing me. Patients express regret about how much tanning they did, and they wish that they had known better when they were teenagers. They wish that someone had told them about the dangers of tanning bed use.
“We can help the next generation—your children and grandchildren. In late July 2014, the US Surgeon General issued a Call to Action on skin cancer which identifies opportunities for the government, public and private organizations, health care providers and individuals to raise awareness of skin-protection practices. Specifically, the call to action affirms that state laws restricting youths from tanning are effective in preventing future skin cancers.
“The Montana Academy of Dermatology believes that protecting the public, especially adolescents, and requiring appropriate oversight of the indoor tanning industry will have a profound effect on improving public health and reducing overall health care costs. For example, about $3.3 billion dollars of skin cancer treatment costs annually are attributable to melanoma. Wouldn’t we all like to reduce this number? Of course, this monetary figure does not begin to account for the tragic loss of life and numbers of patients and families affected by this menacing disease. We would all like to reduce this number too. It is too bad that won’t happen.”