The youngest legal age for using tanning beds has gone up from 14 to 18 years in California after Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill into law. Beforehand, those aged between 14 and 18 were allowed to use tanning salon services if they had permission from their parents – not any more. For the first time anywhere in the USA, anybody under the age of 18 years is will be banned from using ultraviolet tanning beds and devices in commercial premises in the state of California.

The new law (SB 746) will go into effect on the first day of 2012. As expected, the bill’s passing was opposed by the Indoor Tanning Association, and supported by several associations representing doctors as well as the American Cancer Society. The new law was sponsored by the California Society of Dermatology & Dermatological Surgery and the AIM at Melanoma Foundation.

Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said:

“If everyone knew the true dangers of tanning beds
they’d be shocked.”

Lieu added that a considerable percentage of teenagers are completely unaware of the risks of tanning beds.

Lieu said:

“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. If everyone knew the true dangers of tanning beds, they’d be shocked. Skin cancer is a rising epidemic and the leading cause of cancer death for women between 25 and 29.

Indoor tanning is especially harmful because of the intense and dangerous type of UV rays emitted from the tanning beds. Moreover the skin damage is cumulative, so the more exposure one gets younger in life, the worse the harmful effects will be.”

Tanning bed in use
Those who start using tanning salons before 35 years significantly increase their lifetime risk of developing skin cancer

In a press release in Lieu’s website, people who use tanning beds before they are 35 years old raise their lifetime risk of melanoma by 75%.

Alex Miller, MD, President of the California Society of Dermatology & Dermatological Surgery (CalDerm), said:

“The California Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery (CalDerm) and AIM at Melanoma Foundation, the bill’s two co-sponsors, applaud Governor Brown for taking the time to thoroughly understand the importance of this first-in-the-nation legislation. We also commend Senator Ted Lieu, his staff and the members of the California legislature who supported efforts to protect young Californians from the dangers of indoor tanning.”

Some protests, virtually all form tanning salon associations or people closely involved with them are beginning to be heard. Tiffany Yeo-Meeker, who says she has a skin condition and uses tanning salons as a kind of treatment, wrote to Gov. Jerry Brown asking what will happen to teens with persistent skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. Yeo-Meeker’s family have owned a tanning salon for over 20 years.

However, the new law does allow for teenagers with a doctor’s prescription. So perhaps that answers Yeo-Meeker’s concern. Most dermatologists if asked will tell you that tanning salons are not the best choice for treatment. At a clinic or medical practice the amount of energy received is well measured, while in a tanning salon it is a rough estimate.

Written by Christian Nordqvist