The University of Massachusetts Medical School has taken a hard stance against students fake tanning, and with research conducted internally, is leading the charge to remove the campus card as a payment option for tanning services.
According to a university release, UMass’ Sherry Pagoto, PhD, professor of medicine, documented the number of American universities that allowed students to pay for indoor tanning beds with campus debit cards, and according to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 23 of those 37 institutions have since ended the practice.
Research has shown that indoor tanning is linked with an increased risk of melanoma, particularly among teenagers and young adults. Pagoto has stated previously her doubts that any university would intentionally promote something they know is harmful, like tanning but says that tanning beds located on or near campus combined with campus card payment acceptance could be interpreted as a university endorsement of the practice.
After reviewing the top 150 residential colleges in the United States, Pagoto and her colleagues found that 26.6% supported campus card payments for tanning services. Pagoto also contacted university officials at the 37 institutions identified in the initial survey, encouraging them to dissolve campus affiliations with tanning salons.
Neighboring New England institutions Salem State University and the University of New Hampshire are two such campuses that have opted to halt the use of their campus cards’ debit functionality at tanning salons.
Several states have also passed legislation that bans minors from indoor tanning. While researchers are encouraged that 15 states including Massachusetts have now banned indoor tanning for minors, they remain concerned by the fact that college-aged adults comprise the highest rates of indoor tanning users.
Pagoto as the co-chair for the Indoor Tan-Free Skin Smart Campus Initiative plans to continue to target universities and encourage administrations to enact policies that promote healthy student choices. Along with her colleagues at UMass, Pagoto urges campus administrators to commit to a policy that will prohibit tanning beds on campus, and in particular, the acceptance of student ID cards and university-issued debit cards.