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Global health alert: Sunbed use outlawed for minors in the UK

With the summer fast approaching and people prepare to emerge from their winter shelters wearing bikinis and swim trunks, that sun-kissed look is coveted.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that it is now illegal in England and Wales for anyone under the age of 18 to use indoor tanning devices. The Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 prevents minors from being allowed access to tanning beds, being offered the use of a sunbed, and being in an area that is constructed for sunbed users. This law comes at a time during which Cancer Research UK is launching the2011 SunSmart Campaign. Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s director of policy, touches upon the importance of this new law,

“As well as protecting under 18s from sunbed use, we hope the legislation sends a clear message to all that using a sunbed increases the risk of skin cancer. The World Health Organisation has classified sunbed use in its highest risk category for cancer, alongside tobacco.”

With such high accessibility to sunbeds here in the US (they are advertised as a free amenity at my own apartment complex!), I wonder what message we are sending? Although the CDC has been increasingly involved in skin cancer prevention and education efforts, are they doing enough to spread this important message about the cancer risk incurred from using tanning beds?