New state laws regulate tanning beds

State governments are getting serious and cracking down on indoor tanning salons.

In California, the Legislature passed a law in January that banned minors from using tanning beds.

Recently New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he wants to enforce regulations against tanning beds as well.

Bloomberg’s regulations would ban minors from using the beds, require the city’s health department to inspect salons, tanning devices and timers, remove unlicensed salons and begin a campaign in public schools to educate students about the dangers of ultraviolet light.

Other countries are also enforcing new tanning bed laws, such as Brazil and Australia.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that people under the age of 35 who use indoor tanning beds have a 75 percent higher risk to develop melanoma.

Greg Thatcher, an associate professor in the public health department, said that while he believes there should be harsher regulations on indoor tanning salons, there currently is not enough research as of now to show that tanning beds cause skin cancers like melanoma.

“I would absolutely be for banning it if it was shown that it is a true causal factor of developing melanoma,” Thatcher said. “I don’t want to limit people’s personal freedoms, but my personal way of thinking of it is why would you want to pay for something that you can walk outside and get for free?”

Thatcher said that the main problem is that many people who use tanning beds do not use it in moderation.

“The only reason why it should be considered unhealthy is if people abuse it,” Thatcher said. “That’s in any public health situation, it’s going to be if someone abuses what is available to them.”

Fresno State communications student Stephanie Trent has been working at Bahama Mama Tanning Salon for six years. She said the salon receives quite a few Fresno State students who are usually tanning for events such as  sorority formals.

Trent said she thinks the common perception of California being sunny and close to the beach makes people want to look tan.

“In magazines and in other advertisements you don’t see whiter-complexion girls as much, only sometimes,” Trent said. “There’s always that ideal that you should look golden bronze even if you have to go get a lotion from the store. I think that it’s what everyone else has done and so we just keep doing it.”

Fresno’s Four Season Tanning Salon owner Jon Sanderson, who has co-owned the salon for two years, said he supports stricter laws for tanning salons.

“If they are planning on cracking down on indoor tanning salons, I think they should,” Sanderson said. “There are a lot of places that are dirty and here, we really strive for cleanliness and preach moderation for tanning.

“A lot of tanning salons are trying to just make money, but we still care about the health aspect of it.”

Sanderson said there are not many strict rules and regulations for tanning salons in California.

“Honestly, there really aren’t a whole lot that are enforced that you’re supposed to do,” Sanderson said. “There are a lot of things that we do here that maybe a lot of other salons won’t, because nobody checks, like enforcing the minor rule.”

Because salons are dealing with their consumers’ health, Sanderson said there should be stricter laws for salons.

“You are dealing with people’s health, and you have to be careful and cautious,” Sanderson said.


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