Public Release: 

ITA to AMA: Taxing tanning sends wrong health message to teens

Regular and moderate exposure to ultraviolet light

Strategic Communications

ARLINGTON, VA (Sept. 8, 2003) - "The editorial in today's issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine calling for a 'teen indoor tanning tax' sends absolutely the wrong message to teenagers and their parents. We could not disagree more. It is hard to understand how such an important publication ignored a growing mountain of scientific evidence that proves regular and moderate exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light has a profound positive effect on health. Instead of taxing teens who participate in an activity which has proven health benefits, we should be educating them about responsible UV exposure," said Dan Humiston, who serves as ITA president and is the owner of Tanning Bed Ltd. in West Seneca, New York.

"In early October experts from around the world will gather at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, to discuss the vital role UV light plays in providing the fuel the body uses to manufacture Vitamin D. We now understand that vitamin D deficiency is epidemic in American society and that this essential nutrient plays a major role in controlling abnormal cell growth. According to the nation's leading expert in the field, Dr. Michael F. Holick, a professor of medicine, dermatology, physiology and biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine, relatively brief exposure to sunshine or its equivalent several times a week can help to ward off a host of debilitating and sometimes deadly diseases, including osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, depression, and cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, uterus, kidney, and prostate, as well as melanoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"In addition, the accompanying research article and editorial contain serious factual errors and omissions. For example, the editorial grossly misstates melanoma deaths (7,600 in 2003 according to the American Cancer Society, not 45,000, as the article alleged.) Although one death is one too many, validated research has established that more cancer deaths are due to insufficient UV exposure (30,000) than to too much UV exposure. Further, to date, no well-designed studies support the connection between melanoma and UV exposure from tanning beds.

"The researchers and editorialists also fail to shed light on why males get significantly more skin cancer than females and why the melanoma death rate among women aged 20-54 is actually lower now than it was in 1970. The investigators keep us in the dark about why melanoma is more common in people who work indoors than in those who work outdoors and why melanoma most commonly appears on parts of the body that do not receive regular exposure to UV light.

"Most importantly, the research fails to address key public health questions about UV exposure: How much total exposure to UV light do teens receive and do teens use the right kind and amount of sunscreen outdoors?" Humiston said.

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The Indoor Tanning Association (ITA) is a national trade association representing all major manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of indoor tanning equipment as well as approximately 6,000 professional tanning facilities nationwide.

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