Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning devices (tanning beds, booths, and sun lamps) or from the sun contributes to the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, which is the type of skin cancer responsible for most deaths. Indoor tanning is common among certain groups, especially among older adolescents and young adults, adolescent girls and young women, and non-Hispanic whites. Increased understanding of the health risks associated with indoor tanning has led to many efforts to reduce use. Most environmental and systems efforts in the U.S. (e.g., age limits or requiring parental consent/accompaniment) have occurred at the state level. At the national level, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission regulate indoor tanning devices and advertising, respectively. The current paper provides a brief review of (1) the evidence on indoor tanning as a risk factor for skin cancer; (2) factors that may influence use of indoor tanning devices at the population level; and (3) various environmental and systems options available for consideration when developing strategies to reduce indoor tanning. This information provides the context and background for the companion paper in this issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, which summarizes highlights from an informal expert meeting convened by the CDC in August 2012 to identify opportunities to prevent skin cancer by reducing use of indoor tanning devices.
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