Tanning bed regulations have been a topic of discussion for many years, but as of late, it seems medical organizations are becoming increasingly supportive of banning minors from using tanning beds. Currently, five states have a ban in place that keeps minors under the age of 18 out of tanning beds. Other states require parental consent, but that still means 45 states allow minors, sometimes under the age of 15, to use tanning beds. The statistics of early tanning bed use in minors is startling.
According to an article published by Skin & Allergy News, statistics show that 7% of adolescent girls have used a tanning bed by the age of 14. From ages 14-15 that number doubles to 14%; then doubles once more from the ages of 15-17.
A survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention attributes this rise in tanning bed use to the “prom phenomenon.” We now have data that suggests each trip to the tanning salon can result in a 1.8% increase in melanoma risk. To put that in perspective, one year of tanning bed use can raise the chance of developing melanoma at some point in one’s life by 54%-90%. Since most adolescents are frequenting tanning salons as early as 14 and often don’t quit using them by the time they turn 19, it’s fair to say the percentages are quite a bit higher than those percentages.
Researchers are now studying different campaigns and legislation in other countries that have already restricted minors from using tanning salons. A web-based campaign targeting teens in Denmark, along with legal restrictions, has shown a sizable drop in teen tanning. Anti-smoking campaigns are also being used as resources. Although the link that ties melanoma to tanning bed use is not as strong as smoking is to lung cancer, the seven factors that made these campaigns a success can be repurposed.
Those seven principle factors are:
- Legal strategies
- Public health advertising campaigns
- Educational programs
- Specific legislation
- A “move to mandate enforcement”
What we may see first is a 10% tax on tanning salons, although regulating tanning beds in general is very much in the early stages.
Now it’s your turn – what do you think of the prospect of banning tanning beds for everyone under the age of 18? Please comment below or on the PCA SKIN Facebook page.