Our testimony before the Maryland State Legislature
My name is Christine Garrison. I am founder and President of the White Aisle Foundation, a not-for-profit organization based in Baltimore. My foundation and I support SB 299/HR124, prohibiting the use of tanning devices by minors.
My foundation was established to honor the life of my daughter, Rebecca Garrison-Sokoloff, who died at the age of 34 after a long and brutal battle with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Rebecca was just 27 years old and in the prime of life when she was first diagnosed with melanoma. Although she had been very careful about staying protected from the sun after she reached her 20’s, she was vulnerable to peer pressure in her teens. She was led to believe that her fair skin did not meet society’s standards of beauty and was tempted to try to tan despite knowing that her skin did not tan but burned. She succumbed to that temptation a few times and firmly believed the sunburn that resulted from one of those times was one of the major factors that led to her later developing melanoma.
We know that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is among the greatest risk factors in melanoma. In addition to limiting sun exposure, eliminating the use of tanning devices promises to be one of the most effective means we have to reduce the incidence of this disease. As Rebecca’s story shows, young people are particularly susceptible to social pressures that can lead to the use of tanning beds. In fact, the indoor tanning industry often targets the teen market. Given that parents are themselves often unaware of the dangers, parental permission laws do not offer adequate protection for children under these circumstances.
On behalf of my foundation and myself, I urge you to pass legislation to prohibit minors from using indoor tanning devices. Having experienced firsthand the devastation that melanoma inflicts on its victims and those who love them, I find it hard to comprehend why devices known to dramatically increase the risk of contracting this disease are still legally available. No parent should have to watch a child die from melanoma when the science clearly shows the strong link between tanning beds and this disease. Please help protect our children by keeping them away from tanning beds. Thank you.