Teenage Tan Bans Spreading Across States

Lena Huang

CURE, Summer 2011, Volume 10, Issue 2

Several states have enacted laws prohibiting tanning bed use by minors.

After pediatricians said they would support legislation to bar teenagers from using tanning beds, several states introduced legislation this year to do just that. Maryland and New Jersey initiated bills to remove the requirement for parental permission for youths to use tanning beds and replace it with an outright ban. And in Vermont, the banning legislation was filed for the first time. So far, 32 states have enacted some type of law limiting access for minors to tanning salons with 11 states having complete bans for minors of at least 13 years or older.

Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy statement on skin cancer prevention, which included a recommendation for laws that prohibit children under the age of 18 access to tanning salons or use of artificial tanning equipment, including tanning beds. The American Medical Association, American Academy of Dermatology and World Health Organization also support such a ban.

In a study published this year in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers interviewed more than 6,000 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 and found about 17 percent of girls and 3 percent of boys had used a tanning facility within the past year. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 68,000 cases of melanoma were diagnosed last year, and while it is a skin cancer that spans all age groups, it is one of the more common cancers diagnosed in young adults.