Hawaii leading the way on tackling skin cancer


HONOLULU — Hawaii is already ahead of most of the nation when it comes to tackling skin cancer. The state’s new restrictions on tanning device use to those 18 and over is among the top suggestions included in the Surgeon General’s new Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer. The report, released today, lays out strategies focused on both personal responsibility and public policy that will help Americans make healthy choices to protect their skin.

“Today’s report is more proof that Hawaii lawmakers made the right decision when they voted to pass this important legislation this session,” said Cory Chun, Hawaii government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action network. “The dangers of indoor tanning, especially among young people, are staggering. States across the nation should follow the Surgeon General’s advice and pass laws like Hawaii’s to prohibit teens from using indoor tanning devices due to an increased risk for skin cancer.”

Research shows those who use tanning devices before age 35 increase their risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 59 percent.

“The good news is that most skin cancers are preventable,” said Chun. “For the first time, the U.S. Surgeon General has called for national action to fight the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Despite widespread education efforts about sun safety and increased awareness about the importance of using sunscreen and avoiding indoor tanning devices, skin cancer diagnoses and deaths continue to increase. By bringing national attention to this growing public health crisis, the U.S. Surgeon General is calling on all of us to reinvigorate the fight against skin cancer.”

To date, Hawaii and eight other states have already passed comprehensive laws which restrict minors’ use tanning devices and many other states are considering similar legislation. States that have indoor tanning laws have a lower teen tanning rate than states without such laws.

With strong evidence showing the dangers of tanning, several Hawaii lawmakers were committed to passing this lifesaving legislation, including Rep. Gregg Takayama, Sen. Rosalyn Baker, Sen. Josh Green and Rep. Della Au Belatti for their support and Gov. Neil Abercrombie for signing it into law.

In Hawaii alone, more than 410 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed this year. Melanoma is the second most common cancer among women ages 15 to 29 and the most common form of cancer for young adults ages 25 to 29.

Hawaii’s law prohibiting tanning bed use among minors went into effect July 1.