On the Thursday Commentary page, Peter Orszag of Bloomberg View argued that more states should weigh whether to bar indoor tanning for those younger than age 18. He pointed to an alarming finding by the National Cancer Institute: Women who use indoor tanning at least once a month are 55 percent more likely to develop melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.
The discussion has begun to gain momentum in Ohio. Seventeen state lawmakers recently proposed legislation that would ban minors from using commercial tanning beds. The Ohio Dermatological Association has added its expertise and clout in support of the bill.
The tanning industry argues that the link isn’t as scientifically sound as advocates suggest. No question, spending too much time in natural sunlight heightens the risk of cancer and other skin ailments. What troubles is the trajectory — the rise of commercial tanning coinciding with an increase in the incidence of skin cancer. Peter Orszag cited a doubling of melanoma diagnoses in white women ages 15 to 39 since the early 1970s, from 6 in every 100,000 to 14 in every 100,000.
An aggressive education campaign makes sense. So does listening to the dermatologists and following the science. This public health problem deserves discussion — and more, action.