Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Banning Teenagers from Tanning Beds

At the recommendation of doctors and in spite of the tanning industry, California may be the first state to set a precedent on tanning beds.

On May 2, a state Senate committee approved legislation that would make California the first state in the nation to ban teenagers from hitting the indoor tanning bed. The bill follows a statement in February by the American Academy of Pediatrics calling for a ban on ultraviolet (UV) tanning beds and similar devices for anyone under the age of 18, according to state Sen. Ted Lieu, who says “because skin damage is cumulative, the more exposure to tanning beds you have early in life, the worse it is later in life.”

Several scientific studies show a direct connection between indoor tanning beds and cancer, and the World Health Organization has classified tanning beds as a Level 1 carcinogen, the same as plutonium and cigarettes. Every year, an estimated 1 million people in America are diagnosed with non-melanoma cancer, which is caused by overexposure to the sun and tanning devices, according to the American Cancer Society.

Read the most recent issue of Governing magazine.

In 2004, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law banning anyone in California younger than 14 from using a tanning bed, but allowed teens between the ages of 14 and 17 to use them with parental consent. Many states have their own variations of tanning laws and regulations, but none ban tanning entirely for minors, despite the fact that the American Medical Association has recommended it. New York state has also introduced a bill that would ban indoor tanning to anyone under 18.

But with the addition of new medical evidence, as well as increasing support from not only the California Medical Association but also health insurers, Lieu, who tried to pass a similar bill in 2007, says he’s confident the bill will pass this time around.

“You have health insurers like Blue Cross supporting the bill because they realize the cost they’re paying for skin cancer treatment from people who get it from tanning beds,” he says.

Though California may be the first in the U.S. to ban teenagers from tanning beds, it will not be the first place worldwide. Many countries have already done this -- in April, England and Wales banned teen indoor tanning, and in February, Brazil banned tanning beds for cosmetic purposes for the entire population.

The tanning industry -- which in 2010 was sued by the Federal Trade Commission for deceiving customers about health-care risks -- is up in arms about the bill, claiming that if banned from tanning salons, teens will resort to using unregulated home UV appliances. “You’re going to create a garage, underground tanning industry with this bill,” Joe Levy, executive director of the International Smart Tan Network, told the state Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee.

Lieu doubts rogue tanning will take off anytime soon, however. “They will do what Snooki on Jersey Shore does,” he says. “They will do spray tanning.”

Shifting its teens away from tanning beds and toward spray tanning -- a safe method with the same “sunkissed” outcome -- is a win-win for California and its teenagers, Lieu says. Teens can still enjoy the glowing result without the cancer risk.

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
Special Projects
Sponsored Stories
Workplace safety is in the spotlight as government leaders adapt to a prolonged pandemic.
While government employees, students and the general public had to wait in line for hours in the beginning of the pandemic, at-home test kits make it easy to diagnose for the novel coronavirus in less than 30 minutes.
Governments around the nation are working to design the best vaccine policies that keep both their employees and their residents safe. Although the latest data shows a variety of polarizing perspectives, there are clear emerging best practices that leading governments are following to put trust first: creating policies that are flexible and provide a range of options, and being in tune with the needs and sentiments of their employees so that they are able to be dynamic and accommodate the rapidly changing situation.
Service delivery and the individual experience within health and human services (HHS) is often very siloed and fragmented.
In this episode, Marianne Steger explains why health care for Pre-Medicare retirees and active employees just got easier.
Government organizations around the world are experiencing the consequences of plagiarism firsthand. A simple mistake can lead to loss of reputation, loss of trust and even lawsuits. It’s important to avoid plagiarism at all costs, and government organizations are held to a particularly high standard. Fortunately, technological solutions such as iThenticate allow government organizations to avoid instances of text plagiarism in an efficient manner.
Creating meaningful citizen experiences in a post-COVID world requires embracing digital initiatives like secure and ethical data sharing, artificial intelligence and more.
GHD identified four themes critical for municipalities to address to reach net-zero by 2050. Will you be ready?
As more state and local jurisdictions have placed a priority on creating sustainable and resilient communities, many have set strong targets to reduce the energy use and greenhouse gases (GHGs) associated with commercial and residential buildings.