Passing Tanning Bed Laws May Require New Strategy

Survey reveals need for coordination among organizations on underage tanning restrictions
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- Laws to restrict underage tanning bed use can be more successful if multiple organizations coordinate their efforts and if advocates receive more knowledgeable advice, according to research published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Busayo Obayan, of the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues conducted a survey to determine resources required for, and barriers to passage of, successful legislation restricting underage tanning bed usage. Advocates from 10 states that attempted passage of such a law in 2006 completed the survey, as did legislators from five states that attempted passage of such a law.

The researchers found that nine of the 10 responding advocates sought advice from the sponsoring legislator, and eight had discussions with other organizations. Half of the advocates used a lobbyist. All advocates identified heavy lobbying by the tanning bed industry as a barrier to passage of tanning bed restriction laws. Some advocates also cited proceedings after the bill was filed and gaining support from organizations as barriers. Five of the ten legislators that responded identified educating other legislators on the dangers of tanning beds as the most significant barrier. The authors concluded that barriers to passage of tanning bed laws could be overcome with more advice to advocates and coordinated involvement of multiple organizations.

"It is noteworthy that nine of 10 advocates responded that 'truth squads' (comprised of knowledgeable health care providers, researchers, and public health advocates) would have been most helpful. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) could address this need by establishing a council of AAD expert members who would be willing to partner with a skin cancer prevention organization," the authors write.

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