A law keeping kids out of tanning beds and limiting their risk for deadly skin cancer has strong support among Kansas voters. According to a new statewide poll, nearly 70 percent of the state’s voters believe tanning bed use should be restricted to those 18 and older.
The poll results were released as part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s Day at the Capitol Thursday, which brought more than 50 cancer patients, survivors and caregivers to the capitol to advocate in support of the tanning legislation and other cancer-fighting policy priorities.
“These poll results are encouraging. They show Kansans understand the serious risk indoor tanning poses in the development of deadly skin cancers, especially for young people, and that those risks should not be undertaken by minors,” said Reagan Cussimanio, Kansas government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).
“Kansans don’t want their teenagers thinking a tan for prom is more important than their long-term health and they want the legislature to step up and help them protect their kids.”
This year nearly 800 Kansans will be diagnosed with melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, and 100 will die from the disease. Skin cancer cases have been increasing in recent years, especially among young women, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from indoor tanning devices has been directly linked to increased risk of melanoma and has been categorized by the World Health Organization as “carcinogenic to humans.”
“Science has shown the earlier a person starts tanning the greater the risk of getting melanoma and other skin cancers,” said Cussimanio. “Yet use of tanning beds among teens and young adults has skyrocketed from 1 percent to 27 percent in just the last twenty years. If we don’t take action now we face a generation of skin cancer deaths that otherwise could have been prevented.”
A bill, introduced by the House Committee on Health and Human Services, would restrict tanning bed use to those 18 and older. The bill has passed a House committee, but has yet to be scheduled for a floor vote.
“We hope the strong public support for this legislation coupled with the dedication of the patients, survivors and caregivers at the capitol today make clear to lawmakers the time to act is now. Kansas can do more to combat cancer and passing this common-sense tanning law is a step in that direction,” said Cussimanio.
Several states, including Texas and Nevada have passed laws prohibiting minor access to tanning beds. Several other states are considering similar measures. The poll, conducted by the national polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, was conducted among 500 likely voters from December 16-18 of last year.