Are you being fooled by Tanning Myths?
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As you know, there is a bill currently before the Legislature that would ban all teenagers under 18 from getting UV exposure through indoor sunbeds. If enacted, this legislation would shutter small businesses across the state, would take away a parent’s right to decide what is best for their child, and would increase — not decrease — sunburn incidence among teens.
New Jersey law currently has clear and strict standards requiring documented parental consent for those between 14 and 18 who wish to tan, with an outright ban for those under 14. The parental consent form developed and enforced by the NJ Department of Health & Senior Services must be signed in person by the parent or guardian of customers under 18. Age and identity verification for customers, parents and legal guardians must be acquired and retained in the customers’ records maintained by the tanning facility and are audited by the State annually. Parental consent must be renewed annually and can be revoked at any time.
Recently there has been a growing amount of misinformation in the media and from proponents of this legislation about the indoor tanning and sunbed industry in New Jersey. Common misconceptions about the indoor tanning industry include:
“The NJ tanning industry is unregulated”
False, in addition to parental consent and a ban for those under 14, New Jersey’s regulations go far beyond current FDA standards including; requirements for registration, inspections, written warnings, multiple warning signs, required use of protective eyewear, emergency procedures, trained staff on duty at all times, controls against overexposure, sanitation, staff training, restrictions on advertising and promotion, as well as fines for violations.
“This ban will not have an effect on New Jersey’s small business community”
False, the recession and the 10% federal excise tax on tanning services have resulted in business closings and lost jobs. In New Jersey, 17% of the businesses have closed since January 1, 2009.
-The proposed ban would further damage the industry in the State, the majority of which are female owned. The industry also employs mostly 18-25 year olds, a demographic that has an unemployment rate of 17%; double the national average.
-The indoor tanning industry creates jobs and generates needed tax revenue to our State’s economy. Currently, 400 professional indoor tanning salons in New Jersey employ 2,400 residents.
-In addition, New Jersey, at 17%, has the highest taxes in the nation on tanning services: 10% Federal and 7% state
“Any young person, even those under the age of 18, can walk into a tanning salon and use their facilities without rules or parental consent.”
False, New Jersey state law requires parents to sign a consent form in person that must be renewed annually for 14, 15, 16, and 17 year olds to tan. Children under age 14 are banned. The New Jersey Department of Health & Senior Services audits indoor tanning salons annually for the recordkeeping of proper parental consent documentation. Responsible tanning salons support enforcement of parental consent laws and will not defend salons that knowingly flout the law.
“A ban on indoor UV exposure in a sunbed for people under age 18 would keep teens safer and healthier over the short and long term.”
False, a ban would be counterproductive to New Jersey teens. It would drive teens to riskier alternatives such as unregulated home sunbeds and outdoor overexposure with much higher likelihood of burning. It would also reinforce the message that any UV, including natural sunlight, is dangerous and should be avoided, leading to increased vitamin D deficiency. For every death attributed to melanoma or skin cancer, there are as many as 200 deaths attributed to diseases now associated with Vitamin D deficiency.
“Any tan at all is bad for you”
False, saying that sunshine is dangerous and should be avoided is as misleading as saying water causes drowning, and therefore humans should avoid water. A base tan is “Nature’s Sunblock” – it is your body’s natural and intended way to prevent sunburn. It multiplies the effectiveness of sunscreen in preventing sunburn. But because sun exposure is the body’s natural way to synthesize vitamin D, which is virtually non-existent in diet, over-use of sunscreen on days when sunburn isn’t possible has lowered vitamin D levels in Americans in the past generation, according to the Federal Government’s own data (sunscreen almost completely blocks vitamin D production). This is creating an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency and, subsequently, is increasing rates of diseases now known to be associated with low vitamin D levels, including most forms of cancer, heart disease, and many auto-immune disorders.
“Indoor UV exposure through sunbeds is worse than exposure to natural sunlight.”
False, Indoor UV exposure through sunbeds is an appropriate alternative to natural sunlight. Ultraviolet Light is the same, whether from the sun or a sunbed. A 10 minute session in a sun bed is equivalent to approximately 20-30 minutes of midday summer sun. And in an 8-hour visit to a beach on a sunny day people will have received more than 10 times the UV exposure of a typical tanning session.
Professional tanning salons take many steps to educate clients about sunburn prevention; both in the salon and outdoors when they leave. Clients are taught (and monitored for this) that certain drugs can cause photo-sensitive reactions. In addition, through the process of skin-typing, salons help customers avoid sunburn and, in the case of extremely fair-skinned individuals (Type I Skin, which cannot tan but only burns) steer them toward spray tanning and proper sunscreen usage. The FDA has set maximum exposure times for each sunbed, which cannot be exceeded for a customer to avoid sunburn. These precautions do not exist outdoors.
“UV exposure is highly dangerous to human health, both physically and mentally.”
False, there is mounting evidence of the importance of moderate UV exposure in human health. Hundreds of studies have found physical and mental health benefits from sunlight and/or vitamin D and, more importantly, that indoor lifestyles today are denying us what we should be receiving naturally: regular UV exposure.
“UV exposure indoors in a sunbed is largely responsible for the increase in melanoma deaths, and are particularly threatening to women.”
False, this is a major mis-statement that needs to be corrected. Men over age 50 represent the largest segment of melanoma deaths and the largest-growing segment. Melanoma mortality has been decreasing in women under 50 for nearly a generation — the group most likely to use sunbeds. The World Health Organization’s 2006 and 2009 published reports on sunbeds showed weak connections between sunbed use and melanoma. What’s more, the connection is strongest in sunbeds used by dermatologists to treat cosmetic skin conditions, but is statistically insignificant when data isolated commercial indoor sunbeds.
“More UV exposure leads to more health problems.”
Exactly the opposite. Living and working indoors more than ever, Americans get less sun exposure today than at any point in history. A 2012 study in the International Journal of Cancer followed 450,000 subjects and found that cancer rates are lowest among those who get the most sun exposure — the latest in a growing field of evidence crying for a balanced message about UV. Vitamin D researchers now know that vitamin D regulates cell growth in every system in our bodies, and that the amount of vitamin D humans need is only naturally consistent with regular UV exposure to the skin. More research now shows that benefits of sun exposure include protection against infectious diseases and non-cancerous diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, and mental disorders. (www.SUNARC.org, www.SunlightInstitute.org, www.HealthResarchFourum.org.uk)
“A majority of parents favor stricter regulations concerning minors in the indoor tanning salon industry.”
False, an International Communications Research survey found that 67.1% of parents support the tanning industry’s current standard of parental consent, with 27.3% favoring new restrictions.
“There is a prominent 75% increase in risk for melanoma for people who first used indoor tanning facilities in their twenties or teen years.”
False, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the World Health Organization, produced a report in 2006 on the use of indoor tanning beds mistakenly blamed tanning salons for melanoma associated with dermatologists’ phototherapy. The study actually showed that dermatologists’ UV techniques doubled the rate of melanoma while customers of tanning salons had NO SIGNIFICANT INCREASE in melanoma. In general, the risk of melanoma is rare- less that 0.3%- with or without indoor tanning.
“Dermatologists’ methods of phototherapy are the best treatment for skin conditions.”
False, doctors often send patients to get UV exposure on sunbeds for phototherapy.
According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the cost of a single phototherapy session- which utilizes indoor tanning equipment in a dermatologist’s office for the treatment of purely cosmetic skin conditions like psoriasis – is nearly $100 per session, about 20 times more than an indoor tanning session. As a result, an estimated 1.5 million indoor tanning clients today successfully self-treat their psoriasis by following cosmetic protocol in indoor tanning facilities.
If tanning salons were closed, the cosmetic dermatology industry would gain up to $5 billion in phototherapy sessions which would be charged to health insurance companies and the Medicare system.
Thank you for the opportunity to share this information with you. It is our hope that this information would help clear up any misinformation regarding the industry. Should you have any questions or wish to discuss this issue firsthand, please feel free to contact us.