Summertime is when kids hit the beaches and the pools. It’s also when pressure hits for them to tan. Young people, especially young girls, flock to the tanning salons to get what they call “a base tan” or “a healthy glow.” What teenagers don’t understand is that tanning is not healthy and that a tan actually indicates damage to the skin.

Last week, the U.S. Surgeon General estimated that 5 million people in the United States will be treated for skin cancer this year. Preventing skin cancer requires increasing awareness of the dangers of tanning and inadequate sun protection. The surgeon general also made it clear that legislators play a role as well.

Maine lawmakers have an opportunity to follow the lead of an increasing number of states and pass measures that would prevent young people from using indoor tanning devices. States that have indoor tanning laws have a lower teen tanning rate than states without such laws.

Using a tanning device before age 35 increases the risk of melanoma by 59 percent. It’s time for our state to act on the surgeon general’s recommendations by passing a law that prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning devices.

Gail Raymond

volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Scarborough