The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal

MAY 2015

The 2012 edition of The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal features medically reviewed, reader-friendly articles such as tanning, the increasing incidence of skin cancer diagnoses among young women, & the prevalence of melanoma among white males over 50.

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may unravel with so many tanning opportuni- ties on and around campus. About 43% of US college students report tanning indoors in the past year. 3 Looking at the 125 universities in the US News and World Report rankings, we found that 12% of schools had tanning beds in buildings on campus and 42% had tanning beds in off-campus housing facilities. Among the off-campus housing facilities with tanning beds, the vast majority (96%) offered tanning for free to tenants. 1 Allowing students to pay for tanning services with campus debit cards—the same cards used to pay for food, books and school supplies—is an especially insidious way that colleges enable indoor tanning. In one study, we scanned campus cash card merchant lists for tanning salons for 96 of the largest universities in the US. 10 We found that about 18% of these cards listed at least one tanning salon merchant, with 11% indicating multiple merchants. In our study of the top 125 colleges, 14% of schools had tanning sa- lons on their campus cash card merchant lists. 1 It is of great concern that tanning is often offered free of charge to students or can be accessed through campus cash cards, which are typically funded by parents who may not be aware that tanning is an accepted use of the card. Young people deterred by the costs of indoor tanning may be more likely to start, when it is so easy to pay for it. The ability to purchase tanning with parents' funds, with- out parental supervision, also increases the risk of student tanning. Finally, having schools allow tanning salons to be merchants on cash cards may send the dangerous mes- sage to parents that tanning is safe, or even a healthful activity. (Visit SkinCancer.org/letter for a list of colleges and universities that cur- rently allow students to pay for tanning with campus cash cards, or provide on-campus tanning beds.) Collectively, this research reveals that in- door tanning is easily and inexpensively ac- cessible to teens and young adults on many US college campuses. By allowing the prac- tice, colleges are compounding the problem by serving as enablers. Our research shows that colleges could play a major role in reduc- ing youth's skin cancer rates by no longer allowing tanning services to be paid for with campus cash cards, and by eliminating the easy availability of indoor tanning beds on campuses and in off-campus facilities. REACHING OUT TO CAMPUSES Since this work was published, several ef- forts have been under way urging colleges and universities to change their policies. In December 2014, a bipartisan committee of representatives in Congress penned a letter to about 30 universities requesting termina- tion of agreements that allow students to pay for tanning on campus. In response, Rutgers University and the University of Denver termi- nated such agreements. A grassroots social media effort was also launched by Donna Helm Regen, a melanoma awareness advocate who lost her daughter to the disease. On her Facebook page called Pull The Plug On Indoor Tanning, with over 1,600 followers, she led a letter- writing campaign to 200 US colleges and universities asking them to terminate agree- ments with cash card merchants and remove tanning from campus. Michigan State University, one of more than a dozen schools that issued a response, stated its intention to form a committee to review its cash card merchant criteria. 45 FACT: FACT: Colleges could play a major role in reducing young people's skin cancer rates by no longer allowing tanning services to be paid for with campus cash cards. The Surgeon General's 2014 Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer specifically highlighted UV tanning on college campuses as a reason for increasing skin cancer rates. For the latest information and updates go to: SkinCancer.org

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