Last week, California Governor Edmund G. Brown signed a bill into law that will prohibit the use of indoor tanning devices for all Californians under the age of 18.

"The American Academy of Dermatology Association applauds the state of California for being the first in the nation to prohibit the use of indoor tanning devices for all children and adolescents under the age of 18 — the most restrictive law in the country," says dermatologist Ronald L. Moy, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association. "We commend Governor Brown, Sen. Ted Lieu, and the other members of the California legislature for their efforts to help reduce the future incidence of skin cancer by protecting youth from the dangers of indoor tanning."

This legislation was proposed and supported by the California Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery and AIM at Melanoma, a nonprofit organization dedicated to melanoma research and education. "These two organizations were tireless in their efforts to support this bill and educate legislators about how this law will help children and teens decrease their future risk of skin cancer, Moy says. "The American Academy of Dermatology Association was pleased to support this endeavor."

The US Department of Health and Human Services proclaimed in 2002 that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, is a known carcinogen. Yet, nearly 30 million people tan indoors in the United States annually. Of these, 2.3 million are teens.

Evidence from several studies has shown that exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning devices is associated with an increased risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and non-melanoma skin cancer, such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. In fact, studies have found a 75% increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning. 

"Having personally experienced the devastating consequences of melanoma with my daughter, it became a top priority of mine to try to minimize the impact of this disease, especially among young women," says Valerie Guild, co-founder and president of AIM at Melanoma. "This legislation is a cornerstone step to protect young women from the onset of melanoma that is correlated with their use of indoor tanning beds"

More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed annually. Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

"In 2011, California is expected to have 8,250 new cases of melanoma, which is approximately 12% of the national number of new cases, which is 70,230," says dermatologist Ann F. Haas, MD, FAAD, past president of the California Society of Dermatology & Dermatologic Surgery. "Melanoma incidence rates have been increasing for the last 30 years, with the most rapid increases occurring among young, white women, three percent per year since 1992 in those ages 15 to 39. We pushed for this legislation in the hopes of stemming that rise and encouraging other states to follow California’s lead and prohibit the use of tanning devices by minors to reduce the incidence of skin cancer in the US."

[Source: American Academy of Dermatology Association]