For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875
ST. PAUL, MN – On Thursday, June 26, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network named State Representative JoAnn Ward (DFL – Woodbury) Legislator of the Year for authoring a new bipartisan law to prevent skin cancer and save lives.
Ward’s ‘Tan-Free Teens’ bill (House File 2177) prohibits children under 18 years old from using commercial tanning equipment, which exposes skin to harmful levels of cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. HF 2177 is backed by a wide-range of medical and public health organizations, including the American Cancer Society, Mayo Clinic, Minnesota Public Health Association and Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians.
“I’m honored to receive this award and help build a healthier Minnesota,” said Ward. “Keeping our children safe and saving lives is a goal all Minnesotans can rally around.”
“Rep. Ward supported this legislation before it was popular and helped convince her colleagues that Tan-Free Teens will save lives,” said Matt Schafer of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “Rep. Ward got the importance of this legislation right away. As a teacher, she understood the extent of the problem and the need for greater prevention.”
According to a 2012 study published in the British Medical Journal, individuals who use indoor tanning devices before the age of 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 59 percent. From 2005-2009, there were, on average, 1,241 new cases of melanoma diagnosed and 126 deaths annually in Minnesota.
Since 1995, the number of non-Hispanic white women ages 20-49 years old diagnosed with melanoma has increased by 5 percent each year. Females in this age group are twice as likely to have melanoma as males. A 2013 Minnesota Department of Health survey found that 1 out of 3 non-Hispanic white 11th grade girls reported tanning indoors in the past 12 months, with more than half tanning indoors ten or more times.
Ward’s bill requires all indoor tanning facilities to prominently display a sign that states it is illegal for tanning facilities to allow children under the age of 18 to use any tanning equipment. Violators will be subject to petty misdemeanor fines for initial and subsequent violations ranging from $150 to $300.
Rep. Ward encourages her constituents to contact her with questions, comments or any other feedback about the bill. She can be reached by phone at (651) 296-7807, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by postal mail at 531 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.