small victories

Tanning Bed Use Is Finally on the Decline

Photo: Andrew Fox/Corbis

About 1.6 million fewer women and 400,000 fewer men used tanning beds in 2013 compared to 2010, according to a report published in JAMA Dermatology. Overall, tanning bed use fell from 5.5 percent of American adults in 2010 to 4.2 percent in 2013, based on data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey. But it’s still a huge number: An estimated 9.7 million people (7.8 million women and 1.9 million men) are still putting themselves at risk for skin cancer.

The survey wasn’t meant to address why people choose to tan (or not), but CDC experts think public policy has had something to do with the shift. They cited the 10 percent federal excise tax on tanning services introduced in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act and the 2014 FDA ruling that requires manufacturers to add “black box” warnings explaining the health risks of using sunlamp products.

Yet there’s still more work to be done. As Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer at the American Cancer Society, told USA Today: “We have denormalized the use of tobacco, but we have not denormalized getting a tan or denormalized the use of indoor tanning.”

Tanning Bed Use Is Finally on the Decline