IDS, AADA disappointed in postponement of vote by Idaho on indoor tanning bed legislation

Absurd questions about revenue postpone important health legislation

The Idaho Dermatology Society (IDS) and the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) are disappointed in the postponement of the vote by the Idaho House of Representatives on House Bill 486, which would ban the use of indoor tanning beds by minors under the age of 18. The vote was postponed due to the objections of the Idaho Freedom Foundation which raised concerns that passage of the bill would financially benefit dermatologists who would prescribe tanning sessions for certain skin conditions, rather than allowing teens to tan on their own.

"The issues raised about this legislation are absolutely ridiculous and dermatologists are disappointed that the Idaho House of Representatives would give more credit to these ludicrous concerns than the health and wellbeing of young adults in the state," said Ronald L. Moy, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association. "The purpose of this legislation is to prevent future skin cancers. Scientific evidence demonstrates a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning. Dermatologists will ultimately lose money should this bill pass because of the reduction in future skin cancers.  This is the type of revenue loss that dermatologists would welcome."

The main concern raised by the Idaho Freedom Foundation's accusations is the difference between indoor tanning and medical UV and light therapy, also known as phototherapy.  Phototherapy devices provide medical treatment for serious skin conditions and are regulated by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as a medical device.  While ultraviolet (UV) radiation from tanning beds and sun lamps is recognized as a known carcinogen by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the purpose of tanning beds is cosmetic and therefore, not regulated by the FDA as a medical device. 

"Indoor tanning beds are not designed to treat serious skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo, and so forth," said Lindsay D. Sewell, MD, FAAD, president of the Idaho Dermatology Society.  "In sharp contrast, phototherapy devices used in dermatologists' offices are designed to treat these medical conditions by delivering a lesser amount of ultraviolet light than tanning beds. We are not competitors with the tanning industry, and we have no conflict of interest with this bill. We are specially trained to treat skin conditions with medically necessary UV radiation."

"This legislation should move forward immediately," added Dr. Sewell. "Every day that teens are allowed access to indoor tanning salons increases their risks of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and non-melanoma skin cancer, such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma."

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