Educating colleges about skin cancer prevention

A large part of preventing skin cancer in children and young adults is ensuring they’re in an environment that protects them from harmful UV rays. The Skin Smart Campus initiative, in partnership with the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention (NCSCP, of which ASDSA is a member), awards U.S. universities and colleges that promote skin cancer prevention policies and education on campus with the distinction of being a “skin smart campus.” To be eligible, universities and colleges must prohibit tanning devices on campus or in university-affiliated buildings. Additionally, to be recognized as a skin smart campus, the institution cannot list any off-campus housing that includes indoor tanning as an amenity on the off-campus housing listing website; they cannot permit any indoor tanning salon to be included as a university-affiliated debit card merchant; and they must provide access to education programming (such as a website) that focuses on the risks of UV exposure and skin cancer prevention practices to students, faculty and staff.

A research update presented at the Fall NCSCP Membership Meeting noted that 37 out of the 150 top colleges allowed students to use their debit card to pay for indoor tanning. The Skin Smart Campus team alerted these schools, detailing the health risks associated with indoor tanning and possible legal ramifications the universities may face (i.e., tort liability if a student incurs injuries or disease). The result was that 23 colleges agreed to remove tanning salons as vendors. That’s a 62% response in favor of skin cancer prevention.

East Tennessee State University was the first skin smart campus (Aug. 2016); the University of North Florida was honored as the second skin smart campus (May 2017); Temple University was announced as the third skin smart campus during the meeting. ASDSA applauds the Skin Smart Campus team for educating universities that skin cancer prevention is a life-long health practice—even during the college years.

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