Tanning Should Be Banned for Teens

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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.

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...
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