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Thanks, in part, to the great work of ACS and ACS CAN, the Indoor Tanning Association folds, citing a shrinking tanning industry

​The Indoor Tanning Association (ITA) founded in 1999 to promote the business of indoor tanning is closing up shop, thanks to organizations like ACS, ACS CAN, and the 45-member National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, which work hard to educate the public and lawmakers about the tanning industry's contribution to skin cancer, particularly among young adults.

In an announcement in the August 1 online edition of IST Magazine for the indoor tanning industry, John Overstreet, the executive director of the ITA, wrote:

"In July, the Indoor Tanning Association Board of Directors voted to end operations and dissolve the corporation. . . Because of such factors as the recession, the Tan Tax, the aggressive push by the states to limit teen access to indoor tanning, and the unrelenting misinformation campaign waged against this industry in the media, we have seen the size of our industry decrease by half over the past eight years." 

The ITA had run into trouble several times with the Federal Trade Commission over the years for making false claims on its website. Two such claims were that indoor tanning does not increase skin cancer, and that indoor tanning is safer than outdoor tanning. Both statements are false. Those misrepresentations continued up until this year, despite a 2010 settlement with the FTC.

The death of the ITA comes as great news to ACS and ACS CAN, which has been working diligently for years to get the facts in front of the public, and get laws passed to protect minors from the dangers of tanning beds.

Here are some of the actual facts about indoor tanning and skin cancer:

  • Analyses have shown that indoor tanning use before the age of 35 increases melanoma risk by 59 percent, squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent, and basal cell carcinoma by 29 percent. Similarly, a more recent study found that indoor tanning was associated with a six-fold increase in melanoma risk among women younger than age 30.
  • In 2009, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer increased the classification of UV emitting indoor tanning devices to the highest level of cancer risk – Group 1 –“carcinogenic to humans.” This classification places tanning devices in the same category as other known carcinogens such as tobacco, benzene, and asbestos.
  • Tanning devices deliver UVA dosages 5-15 times higher than delivered by the summer midday sun on a Mediterranean beach. UVA is the main UV wavelength individuals are exposed to in tanning devices and frequent exposure to UVA increases the risk of melanoma.

For more details, read this ACS CAN document titled "Just the Facts: Indoor Tanning."

ACS CAN and its advocates has been working tirelessly in states across the country to get laws passed that prohibit teen use of tanning devices. Thanks to their efforts, Oklahoma and West Virginia recently passed laws to prohibit the use of tanning devices for everyone under the age of 18. To date, 14 states, plus the District of Columbia, have adopted comprehensive indoor tanning laws. A recent Society-supported study, however, found that some businesses are flouting those laws.

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