On Wednesday, January 27, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed an important measure prohibiting people under the age of 18 from using tanning devices. Senate Bill 1994 also prevents minors from operating such devices, even if employed by tanning facilities.
The bill, which passed through the House in a 146-8 vote, and unanimously through the Senate last September, represents a significant shift in state policy and attitudes towards indoor tanning. Previously, children under the age of 14 could only use an indoor tanning device if accompanied by an adult, and teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 required parental consent in order to do so.
This important legislative action recognizes the risks that tanning devices pose toward teens and children, who are particularly susceptible to skin cancer because their skin cells are rapidly dividing as they grow. According to a press release from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), indoor tanning use before age 35 increases melanoma risk by 59 percent and estimates that 1,310 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in Massachusetts this year.
With the passage of Wednesday’s bill, Massachusetts joins at least 12 states and territories which ban the use of tanning beds for children under 18. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Vermont have passed similar laws.
Atrius Health, which has long believed in the importance of preventative care in order to keep patients healthy for the duration of their lives, commends and thanks the Massachusetts state legislature for its efforts to protect younger generations from the long-lasting and harmful effects of skin cancer. In doing so, we are all a step closer toward ensuring a healthier and happier Commonwealth.