Not surprisingly, in states where there are laws limiting teen indoor tanning bed use, tanning bed use is down among teens. The laws require parental permission or put an age restriction on indoor tanning bed use.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention looked at state indoor tanning laws and the relationship between teens’ tanning behaviors and state laws. Results were published online by the American Journal of Public Health.
Researchers used data from then 2009 and 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Surveys of high school students. Among them, 23.4 percent of females and 6.5 percent of males engaged in indoor tanning.
Female high school students were 30 percent less likely to indoor tan if their state had any indoor tanning laws than those in states without any laws, and 42 percent less likely to indoor tan if their state had laws directed towards them – like parental permission or age restrictions.
This is the first study to look at how laws on indoor tanning have impacted the practice.
“State indoor tanning laws, especially age restrictions, may be effective in reducing indoor tanning among our nation’s youth,” said Gery Guy, PhD, health economist and the study’s lead author. “We need to address the harms of indoor tanning, especially among children. Indoor tanning laws can be part of a comprehensive effort to prevent skin cancers and change social norms around tanned skin.”
Skin cancer is a major public health problem; it’s the most common form of cancer in the United States. Melanoma, the most fatal of skin cancers, have been on the rise – especially among young women. Some researchers believe that increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation through indoor tanning may play a role in this increase.
Currently, six states restrict indoor tanning among minors (California, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Vermont.)