States Restrict Tanning Bed Use by Minors
State and local governments are enacting legislation to restrict the use of tanning beds by residents younger than age 18 in response to an "unexplained increase" in skin cancer among young adults, the New York Times reports. According to the Times, the efforts highlight "a growing sense of alarm among public health organizations about unregulated use of tanning beds by young people, especially teenage girls."
The American Academy of Dermatology, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization in the past two years "have labeled tanning beds as the health-peril equivalent of cigarettes" and have recommended bans on use of the beds by minors, the Times reports.
Since 2003, 19 states have passed laws to restrict use of tanning beds by minors. New York, New Jersey and California have enacted laws under which residents younger than age 14 cannot use tanning beds, and Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Texas allow use of the beds by such residents only when accompanied by a parent.
Meanwhile, the Indoor Tanning Association since 2001 has worked with the lobbying firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld "to persuade lawmakers to circumscribe the regulation of an industry that until recently was virtually free to serve clients of any age."
According to the Times, the medical evidence that links skin cancer and exposure to ultraviolet light is "contradictory," and, although dermatologists by large "have taken a hard line against tanning," some cancer experts "have suggested that greater vigilance in cancer screening may be part of the reason" for increased rates among young adults (Vitello, New York Times, 8/14).