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Is The Tanning Ban Coming To America?

Illustration for article titled Is The Tanning Ban Coming To America?

After numerous studies revealed that the rate of malignant melanoma has tripled among people under the age of 35 in the UK, England and Wales have placed a ban on the use of tanning beds for children under the age of 18.

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But they didn't stop there. They've also tacked on a fine of up to $32,000 for those who attempt to break the rules.

Currently, over 30 states in America have laws in place to restrict minor access to indoor tanning beds, but that doesn't seem to be stopping many of the one million teenagers who frequently use them.

"Tanning is an open invitation to developing skin cancer and other problems...we wouldn't let our child drive at 10, why expose them to the dangers of tanning as teens?" Cathi Hixson Pominski, a Tennessee viewer, told ABC News.

A study published in March in the American Journal of Public Health surveyed 6,000 teenagers ages 14 to 17 over a one-year period about their tanning habits. Researchers found that 17.1 percent of girls and 3.2 percent of boys used indoor tanning within that year. The study also showed that the same number of teens went tanning in states with laws that have age restrictions or require parental consent. Older teenage girls hit the tanning booths the most often.

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As troubling as these statistics might be, you can't tell Americans what to do with their bodies —whether it's unhealthy or not— without receiving some "this is a free country" criticism.

"Banning tanning, although it theoretically makes sense, is a bit much," Adam Schreiber of New York told ABC News. "What about those who soak up rays on a beach or by a pool every day of the summer? Are they going to put a limit on how much time you can spend outside or an age limit to be able to sit in the sun? People know the risks. If they want to get tan, let them."

Even in the UK (where the policy is already firmly in place), residents report favoring increased education on the health risks of tanning as opposed to a flat-out ban:

"I personally think it would be better to educate people at schools instead of enforcing a ban," London resident Hattie Murray told us. "People will always use fake IDs, etc. to get around laws."

Others agree with the new law. Noemie Deed, another England resident, told ABC News, "I think it's a good idea. Although it may not stop teenagers from using sunbeds, it is a good step in encouraging the options of spray tans/tanning lotions etc. I do agree, however, that teenagers need to be better educated on the dangers of sunbeds."

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UK Teen Tanning Bed Ban: Coming to America? [ABC News]

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DISCUSSION

VioletBaudelaire
Violet Baudelaire

Deal with your pale skin! it will come back into style at some point - and in many countries such as China, pale skin is all the rage. Doing something as dangerous as tanning in order to better fit the society's unhealthy ideals of beauty isn't any less silly than the girls that overdiet to be super thin. It's a shame the teens feel like they have to tan to look "hot".

I almost lost a dear friend to skin cancer - and she was diagnosed at age 20 and then came out of remission again at age 23. Anything we can do to help restrict exposure to teens is important - and yes, they still can tan in the sun, but tanning beds are shown to have more concentrated and dangerous levels of UVA and UVB rays than regular sunshine (especially UVB rays which cause the more malignant types of melanoma). I'm all for educating our teens in general about this and other health issues, but sometimes a full on ban is a great way to drive the point home- what better way to show teens that it's dangerous than to show we've gone to such lengths to protect them from it?

And yes - cigarettes also cause cancer and (in my opinion) should be illegal - and they ARE illegal for minors.