It's prom season and if this one is anything like previous years, it means that teens will be flocking to the tanning beds to get a touch of color before the big event. But public health advocates have been arguing for years that indoor tanning can lead to a much greater risk for skin cancer later in life. As such, many states have recently taken a closer look at legislation that would make tanning beds off-limits to kids and teens.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie recently signed a bill into law that will ban children under 17 from using commercial tanning beds. New Jersey already had a law on the books banning children under 14 from using tanning beds, but the case last year of the woman accused of bringing her 5-year-old daughter into the tanning bed with her prompted an outcry from citizens demanding even tougher legislation. Under the new law, teens under the age 17 must have a parent or guardian present for an initial consultation with a tanning salon.
With this new law, New Jersey joins California and Vermont in having strong regulations against indoor tanning for teens. According to the Indoor Tanning Association — a trade group of the tanning bed industry — similar bills are pending in at least 25 other states: Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. A bill in Maine that would restrict indoor tanning for teens passed the state's Senate and House this week and awaits approval from Maine's governor, Paul LePage, who hasn’t yet publicly taken a position on the bill.
“Although some people think that a tan gives them a ‘healthy’ glow, any tan is a sign of skin damage,” said Sharon Miller, a Food and Drug Administration scientist and international expert on UV radiation and tanning. Indoor ultraviolet tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer, than those who have never tanned indoors, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Are teens ready to go pale from prom? Now that would be one teen trend I would love to see catch on.
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