Tanning Beds Banned for Minors in California

Liz De La Torre

Glorified by MTV’s Jersey Shore and other reality shows, it is no surprise that tanning beds have become a popular trend among younger audiences. In fact, research conducted by Indoor Tanning Association reveals that teens under 18 make up five  to ten percent of tanning bed users on a national scale. But now, that sweet bronze, and sometimes orange, tan is stirring some protest from the youth. As part of new California legislation, it seems that teens will have to resort to getting natural tans. Just last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that, effective Jan. 1, 2012, will forbid teens under 18 from using tanning beds.

Pending the execution of the new law, teens under 14 will still be restricted from access to tanning beds in California. Moreover, teens between the ages of 15 and 17, with the exception of parental permission, will be allowed limited access. Although California is the first state to enact this law, other states including New York, Ohio, Illinois, and Texas are also endorsing this by including age restrictions for tanning beds.

As the craze for tanning beds progressed over the years, tanning salons were able to entice customers into tanning for the perfect look. According to Time magazine, a study by NCI revealed that 71% of tanning salons allowed tanning every day for the first week and presented customers with “unlimited tanning” discounts in 2009. Though never actually evading criticisms, tanning salons disregarded many rules and regulations due to the soaring popularity of tanning in media and fashion. Consequently, less than 11% of tanning salons refused to comply with government sanctions on sunlamp exposure in the same study found in Time magazine.

At present, the new law has generated vast support from people who have cited tanning beds as a precursor to cancer. Senator Ted Lieu has applauded the law as an effort to have healthy measures protect teens: “I praise Gov. Brown for his courage in taking this much-needed step to protect some of California’s most vulnerable residents — our kids — from what the ‘House of Medicine’ has conclusively shown is lethally dangerous: ultraviolet-emitting radiation from tanning beds.”