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Award recognizes UNC for its commitment to promoting skin cancer prevention and UV safety education on campus, including providing free sunscreen dispensers on campus.

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Left to right, Alison Hollis, MD, UNC SOM class of 2023 graduate, and Emma Myers, third year medical student, class of 2025.

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has presented the platinum level Skin Smart Campus Award to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This award recognizes UNC for its commitment to promoting skin cancer prevention and UV safety education on campus, including providing free sunscreen dispensers on campus. UNC also pledges to keep indoor tanning devices off the campus and out of all affiliated buildings.

The Indoor Tan-Free Skin Smart Campus Initiative was developed in response to the 2014 U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer which concluded that there is a strong association between increased risk of skin cancer and indoor tanning use. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—is one of the leading forms of cancer diagnosed in young adults. According to The International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group, the use of indoor tanning facilities before age 35 increases the risk for melanoma by 75%.

UNC’s journey to join the Skin Smart Campus Initiative has been a grassroots effort led by Emma Myers, third year medical student at UNC School of Medicine, and Alison Hollis, MD, recent UNC School of Medicine graduate, in coordination with Rachel Blasiak, MD, MPH, assistant professor of dermatology at UNC School of Medicine, and Barbara Alvarez Martin, DrPH, MPH, assistant director of Community Outreach and Engagement and Population Sciences at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Promoting sun safety on campus

“Due to a longstanding interest in sun safety promotion through leadership in the UNC Dermatology Interest Group and the desire to spread awareness about skin cancer prevention on an institution-wide level, I quickly became excited about the prospect of bringing the Skin Smart Campus Initiative to UNC,” Myers said. “By developing an educational webpage on skin cancer prevention, collaborating with the UNC Lineberger and ultimately installing 10 sunscreen dispensers around graduate, undergraduate, athletic and medical sites around UNC’s campus, we played a role in public health efforts in skin cancer prevention, which are key for improving the health of our Carolina communities.”

“I went to undergraduate and medical school here at UNC and I have now matched into dermatology residency, and I am excited to be able to educate students and peers on the importance of sun safety, and to encourage sunscreen use by implementing sunscreen dispensers on campus. We, as students, are incredibly fortunate to be able to reliably and conveniently access sunscreen dispensers across 10 campus locations” Hollis said.

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One of the sunscreen dispensers installed on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.

In addition to helping acquire and coordinate the distribution of sunscreen dispensers on campus, Myers and Hollis have created a web page with information about skin cancer prevention. Their goal is to raise awareness of skin cancer prevention and sun safety education and to encourage positive behavioral change by emphasizing the importance of avoiding artificial tanning beds. Their future goals include reaching all members of the UNC community by hosting sun safety and awareness events with UNC DIG and IMPACT Melanoma.

Myers and Hollis said UNC Lineberger’s support has been critical to the initiative’s launch, and they are grateful to have had the support of IMPACT Melanoma and UNC Dermatology.

“Preventing cancer is always preferred to treating cancer, so the UNC Lineberger leadership was honored to have the cancer center partner in this program dedicated to reducing the UNC community’s risk of skin cancer,” Martin said.

Sunscreen dispenser locations

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention awards two free sunscreen dispensers and a year’s worth of sunscreen as part of the platinum award.

UNC has installed the two award dispensers, plus eight additional dispensers purchased by UNC Lineberger, in high traffic areas on campus, including the UNC Student Union, Kenan Football Stadium, the N.C. Basnight Cancer Hospital and other undergraduate, graduate and professional campus locations.

Myers and Hollis hope that the dispensers will serve as a tangible reminder to the campus community to take steps to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors.

Map of all dispensers on campus

Individual sunscreen dispenser locations: