The Coppertone Solar Research Center has initiated a call to action to improve Americans' sun protection education and encourage adoption of healthier sun care behavior in the wake of an expert panel at its Suncare 2020 Symposium held recently in New York City.


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Coppertone panel issues sun care call to action

July 8th, 2010

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. – The Coppertone Solar Research Center has initiated a call to action to improve Americans' sun protection education and encourage adoption of healthier sun care behavior in the wake of an expert panel at its Suncare 2020 Symposium held recently in New York City.

The event by Merck Consumer Care's sun care research and development facility convened selected thought leaders from government, medicine, academia, advocacy and industry to initiate dialogue and capture vision around the best ways to educate the American public in today's evolving suncare environment.

Symposium participants agreed an urgent need exists to clarify conflicting messages for Americans surrounding sun care, to increase education efforts around tanning addiction and empower consumers to take control of their skin health.

Recommendations focused on a collaborative approach to improve the public's awareness and understanding of proper sun protection. The following key themes emerged from the symposium:

• Create information to prompt behavior change. A gap remains between consumer sun care knowledge and behavior, potentially because adopting long-term healthy skin habits may not show immediate, tangible results. Participants agreed that fear-based approaches to fostering positive behavior change are less desirable than extensive education regarding safe sun practices. Symposium attendees recommended empowering consumers with incentives and information to help drive healthier skin protection choices.

• Help educate the public on navigating expected sunscreen labeling and product performance rules. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to release in October its final rule on the sunscreen monograph, which may include changes on such elements as usage, active ingredients, testing and product labeling. The symposium posed a call to action to help consumers clearly understand what these changes may mean.

• Separate myth from reality. The public is inundated with inconsistent messages in the media about topics such as tanning, vitamin D, sunscreen ingredients and good sun protection habits. Often this information generates misunderstanding that places the public at increased risk for making unhealthy choices. A collaborative effort is needed to help consumers better understand the facts.

• Tailor education to eesonate with generational and cultural needs. Participants agreed cultural and generational cohorts maintain different attitudes and behaviors about suncare. For instance, many young women still believe a tan signifies beauty.The experts suggested creating education campaigns for children to help them adopt healthy suncare habits.

"Skin cancer is an epidemic, and yet it's often a preventable disease. Unfortunately, many consumers still see challenges in adopting healthy sun care behaviors, either because they still believe a tan is attractive or because they don't understand the risks of not protecting their skin," commented David Leffell, M.D., professor of dermatology and surgery at the Yale School of Medicine, who served as the symposium's moderator. "Knowledge is a powerful tool in empowering consumers."

Prompted by the symposium's call to action, the Coppertone Solar Research Center is offering an easy-to-remember checklist dubbed "RAISE" to heighten public awareness on expected elements to be addressed in the FDA's upcoming final sunscreen monograph. The RAISE checklist includes Rating UVA protection, Anti-aging,  
Ingredients, SPF cap and Expression of claims (regarding language on sunscreen labels).

"The Coppertone Solar Research Center has a legacy of innovation and leadership in educating consumers about sun protection," stated Robert Bianchini vice president of skin care research and development at the center. "This tool is emblematic of our continued commitment to enable the public to make informed sun care choices."

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