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PSA shocks would-be tanners with their own funeral

NEW YORK CITY — “It’s just as safe as the sun.”

People on the streets in New York City were invited for a free tan on a cold day in November. The would-be tanners were shocked when they walked in on their own funeral instead, complete with a casket, mourners and an organist.

The reactions were captured for an ad sponsored by Mollie’s Fund, a melanoma awareness foundation that seeks to save lives by educating people about melanoma prevention and skin cancer detection. Mollie Biggane was a sophomore in college when she died of melanoma, and her family started the foundation in her memory.

The participants called the set-up “sad,” “shocking” and “frightening.” That’s exactly the reaction Mollie’s mom Maggie Biggane was hoping for.

“By targeting tanning bed users in such a dramatic way, we know we can directly impact melanoma statistics,” she told today.com.

Freekillertan.com lets users send “one free killer tan” to their friends via email and includes the video. The site also gives startling statistics about cancer and tanning beds:

  • Just one tanning session increases the risk of melanoma by 20 percent
  • One person dies from melanoma every 57 minutes in the U.S.
  • Tanning beds have the same cancer rating as plutonium, cigarettes and asbestos
  • Using tanning beds before the age of 35 increases the risk of melanoma

In the U.S., 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer in their lifetimes, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Over 30 million people in the United States use tanning beds every year, and two-thirds of those are teens. Despite having a high cancer rating, only 11 states have banned minors from using tanning beds. Brazil, New South Wales and Australia are the only countries that have banned tanning beds entirely, according to skincancer.org.

One of the women who stopped in for her “free killer tan” said it was her first time going tanning: “And after this, never again,” she said.

What do you think of this new ad? Do you think the United States should ban tanning beds? Let us know in the comments.

Mary Richards contributed to this story.

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