We Are Sunshine

Running With ASA’s Joe Levy: Lessons from running fuel ASA’s successful approach to sun care advocacy

Monday, September 11th, 2023

For more than a quarter of a century you’ve probably seen my picture in Smart Tan Magazine in suits and ties – more often than not promoting the case for non-burning sun exposure at meetings in state capitol buildings. I’ve been to 43 different capitols in person in the past 10 years for the American Suntanning Association. That’s a lot of suits and ties.

What you haven’t seen is that before or after each of these meetings – at dawn or at dusk – I usually go for a run around the capitol to clear my head. I took up running about 15 years ago and the photo of me on the cover this month was one such “dome run.” But this one in particular stands out in my 31-year marathon standing up for effective sun-care.

It was March 9, 2020. It was a block from the Pennsylvania capitol building in Harrisburg. And it was about 90 minutes after state governments first started reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the course of about 15 minutes my cell phone blew up. My 2:00 legislative meeting – cancelled. My 2:30 meeting with the Pennsylvania Department of Health – cancelled.

My meeting the next morning with the New Jersey Department of Health – cancelled. My meetings two days later with members of the Colorado legislature – cancelled.

There was nothing left to do but change my flight home and retool. The next morning was the soonest I could re-book, so I threw on my Nikes and went for a run.

ASA’s state lobbying program was in full swing in 18 states when the whole world changed in a matter of minutes. I had been in 10 states in person already that year, and I was more than half-way through a day of positive meetings with members of the legislature about the unintended consequences of a bill that would ban commercial sunbed usage by anyone under 18. It was going well. They understood why the science supports our parental consent approach.

Since 2013, ASA has blazed a common approach of putting the industry’s positions in constructive, scientifically supported terms. That positive approach has paid dividends. Since 2013, ASA has convinced state legislatures 147 times that our positions make sense – continuing to win when we have the opportunity to lay out the unintended consequences of any over-reaching anti-sense legislation.

Click here to read the entire article in the latest issue of Smart Tan Magazine online.