The tanning industry was not very happy when Obamacare imposed a new 10 percent tax on salon revenues. However, that tax, combined with increased awareness of the dangers of tanning beds, has resulted in a decrease in use of the machines.
In a new study, researchers found that indoor tanning rates dropped by 1.6 million women and 400,000 men in 2013 compared to 2010. However, an estimated 7.8 million women and 1.9 million men still jump into the potentially cancer-causing beds.
“Indoor tanning devices have been classified as carcinogenic to humans, their use has consistently been shown to increase skin cancer risk, and laws restricting access among minors may have changed public perceptions of their safety,” said Gery P. Guy Jr., Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and coauthors of the study published in JAMA Dermatology.
The study reports that “the Surgeon General has highlighted the importance of reducing the harms from indoor tanning and of continued public health efforts to identify and implement effective strategies to reduce indoor tanning.”
At a Congressional briefing in May, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said, “We do not allow our children to buy cigarettes, yet the tanning industry continues to target adolescent girls. And this is not unlike what we found with the tobacco industry.” According to DeLauro, “It’s time we started treating [tanning beds] just like they are cigarettes. They are carcinogen delivery systems.”
A 2012 study in the British Medical Journal found that 5 percent of European melanoma cases were caused by indoor tanning beds and users of the machines were 20 percent more likely to get cancer.
Authors of the current study say “research regarding the motivations of indoor tanners could inform the development of new interventions. Physicians can also play a role through behavioral counseling, which is recommended for fair-skinned persons aged 10 to 24 years.”
By Brad Broker