Reducing Indoor Tanning on College Campuses

Photo of Dr. Sherry Pagoto presenting Dr. Carolyn Heckman with the Skin Smart Campus award for Temple University.

Dr. Sherry Pagoto presenting Dr. Carolyn Heckman with the Skin Smart Campus award for Temple University.

Many people begin tanning indoors during their youth, and this practice is most common among young people aged 15 to 25. While many states prohibit minors from using tanning salons, young adults are still vulnerable. Universities have a huge opportunity to curb indoor tanning in this age group.

The Indoor Tan-Free Skin Smart Campus is a national initiative supported by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention. It started in response to CDC-funded research that found that tanning beds are available on many college campuses and in nearby apartments and that tanning salons often can be paid with campus debit cards.

Led by Dr. Robert Dellavalle, Dr. Sherry Pagoto, and Nazanin Kalani, and modeled after the Tobacco-Free Campus initiative, the Indoor Tan-Free Skin Smart Campus initiative aims to break ties between universities and tanning salons and educate college students about skin cancer prevention.

To qualify as a Skin Smart Campus, colleges must meet at least one of the following criteria—

  • If the college has a list of off-campus housing on its website, housing that offers indoor tanning as an amenity is not included.
  • The college does not permit tanning salons to be university-affiliated debit card merchants.
  • The college provides educational programming, such as a website, on the risks of exposure to ultraviolet rays and skin cancer prevention practices to students, faculty, and staff.

“Universities can play an important role in creating a culture and establishing norms around healthy behavior,” said Dr. Pagoto. “The purpose of Skin Smart is to give them the tools to do just that.”

The first Skin Smart Campuses include East Tennessee State University, University of North Florida, and Temple University. Learn more at www.skinsmartcampus.org.external icon