On Monday, July 16, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that will ban children under the age of 16 from using indoor tanning beds.

In addition, 17-year-olds will have to obtain parental consent in order to use tanning beds. The bill will go into effect in 30 days.

Daniel M. Siegel, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association and a New York-based dermatologist, explained:

“The American Academy of Dermatology Association commends New York for joining in the fight against melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and non-melanoma skin cancers. The law will help prevent skin cancer and reduce our country’s health care costs.

Melanoma rates have been increasing for the last 30 years, with the most rapid increases occurring among young women, the primary users of indoor tanning. Prohibiting access to indoor tanning for young people helps limit this risky behavior before it can become a habit that continues through adolescence into adulthood.”

According to Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, a bill sponsor, people often regret using tanning beds at an early age.

Each year, more than 2 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer. In addition, it is estimated that 1 in 5 people in the U.S. will develop skin cancer at some point during their lifetime. In 2012, it is estimated that more than 4,700 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in New York.

Dr. Siegel explained:

“Prevention is one of the most valuable tools that we have as dermatologists. We need to continue educating patients about the risk of indoor tanning and encouraging healthy decisions to help prevent skin cancer. This law will protect children and adolescents from the health hazards of indoor tanning and send a strong message from the state that tanning is a dangerous behavior and should be avoided.”

The ban is already in effect in California and Vermont.

Although its known that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, is a carcinogen, around 30 million people continue to tan indoors in the U.S. Of these, 2.3 million are adolescents.

The ban was supported by The Medical Society of the State of New York, American Cancer Society, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association, AIM at Melanoma, and the New York State Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery.

The Academy launched the SPOT Skin Cancer™ public awareness initiative, in an attempt to increase the public’s understanding of skin cancer and to motivate people to change their behavior to prevent and detect skin cancer.

Written by Grace Rattue