Ban Youths Under 18 From Tanning Salons

A tan isn't worth teens increasing their risk for skin cancer. The General Assembly should send that unequivocal message by passing a proposed ban on the use of indoor tanning devices for those under the age of 18.

This is hardly a risky position. It would merely put into law a ban recommended by the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, The American Academy of Dermatology and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Virtually the entire medical establishment agrees on the link between rising rates of skin cancer and the parallel rise in the use of tanning beds since the 1970s. This is because tanning devices expose users to an intense dose of ultraviolet radiation that may be as much as 10 to 15 times higher than the midday sun.

Some think current state law is adequate. It requires parental permission for tanning salon customers below 16. Others think a ban would be government overreach. Both positions are mistaken.

A Yale study last year involving people under 40 found that indoor tanning increases the risk of early onset skin cancer by nearly 70 percent — particularly among women, since they use tanning beds more often. Skin cancer is now the second most common type of cancer among American women in their 20s.

Joe Levy, the spokesman of the American Suntanning Association, has suggested a compromise: The state should ban teens under 16 from using tanning beds. Mr. Levy says the link between cancer and indoor tanning salons is not clear. He refers to an essay by a University of Chicago researcher, Arthur Rhodes, to reinforce the industry view.

Dr. Rhodes on Feb. 25 blasted the industry for distorting his research. He supports a ban on those under 18 using tanning beds.

Since 18 is the beginning of adulthood, that's the age at which using indoor tanning devices should be legal.

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