Cigarettes for the skin
Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has been on the rise for 30 years, and it's not mere chance that the increase has coincided with the use of tanning booths.
According to the Melanoma Foundation, incidence is rising at the rate of about 3 percent per year. Melanoma accounts for 5 percent of all skin cancers but 71 percent of all skin cancer deaths.
Each year 63,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma, the most common cause of cancer among women between 25 and 32.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the melanoma risk is 75 percent higher in people exposed to ultraviolet radiation through indoor tanning.
The FDA wants to increase regulatory oversight of the indoor tanning industry, and a bill has been introduced in the state Legislature to limit young people's use of tanning booths.
"Tanning beds essentially are cigarettes for the skin," said Rep. Rose Marie Swanger, a Lebanon County Republican, as she introduced bill to bar people younger than 18 from using commercial tanning booths.
Her bill followed by a week New Jersey's passage of a law barring anyone younger than 17 from using commercial booths.
The Legislature should pass the legislation.
Meanwhile, the FDA also says that people younger than 18 shouldn't use the booths for health reasons. It wants to put a warning to that effect on all commercial literature and advertising for tanning booths, and on the machines. It also wants to set standards for the devices including mandatory timers and limits to the amount of UV radiation that they can emit.
The tragedy of climbing melanoma rates is that the disease is preventable. The state and the FDA should act aggressively to reverse the trend.