No tanning without mom and dad.
A bronze skin often comes with a price.
"The melanoma rate, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is increasing rapidly particularly with young women," said Senator Patricia Jones, D-Salt Lake City.
That’s why tanning salons have been of concern in the Utah Legislature. Utah Governor Jon Huntsman signed Senate Bill 52 Feb. 28, which requires a person younger than 18 to obtain parental consent before using tanning bed.
"The UV rays in tanning beds are two to three times more intense than lying out in the sun," Jones said.
Bob Swensen, the environmental health director for Summit County Health Department agrees.
"UV light coming from the sun is mixed with other rays," Swensen said. "100 percent of the rays on a tanning bed are UV light. In the sun, you are gradually getting a tan. It’s got to be more intense."
The bill states that it is unlawful for any operator of a tanning facility to allow a person younger than 18 to use a tanning device unless the minor’s parent or legal guardian appears in person at the tanning facility.
The parent’s presence is required the first time the minor uses a tanning device and at least once during a 12-month period, and the parent must sign a written consent. The bill also requires more signage to increase awareness about the potential health risks.
Many counties in the state and various tanning facilities already require a parent’s written consent, but S.B. 52 will ensure people will be educated. Jones says many teenagers have forged their parents’ signatures in the past.
"This would certainly help mitigate that," Jones said. "It’s important for parents to understand how dangerous this is. It gives parents and children a chance to talk about it."
Many parents, Jones said, are not aware of what their kids are doing. This way they can talk to their kids about the potential dangers.
"They would have to go once a year to sign off and read a warning label and the risks involved with tanning beds and they would sign the parental permission and indicate the number of sessions they can have that year," Jones said.
"They will both be more informed and educated with the risks. They will be aware of what their children are doing," she added.
Camille Uda, the manager for the Tanning Bar and Salon at Redstone Center, believes there will be a loss of customers because of the bill. However, even prior to the Legislature’s decision, her salon required parents to sign for kids 16 and under.
"Just the fact that parents have to be here, it will definitely affect it. We have a lot of younger girls that come after school," Uda said. "Some kids don’t want their parents to know they go tanning."
At the same time, however, Uda thinks this bill is positive because "it makes kids more aware that there are risks."
"Kids don’t quite understand that," Uda said. "For the business, it might not be the best thing, but overall it’s a good thing because of the rising skin cancer in the U.S. It puts it into the parent’s hands."
Uda said it’s better to save lives than make an extra buck.
"It’s better to save the younger population from cancer risk then to say, ‘hey come tanning 14-year-old girl,’ to make $10," Uda said.
Uda shares a similar sentiment as other tanning salon owners and managers in the state.
"You would think tanning salons were against it but they weren’t." Jones said. "I didn’t hear from one tanning salon company that was against it. The ones I heard from were very supportive."
Some of the tanners are not so supportive, though. Ashley Pyne, a 17-year-old Park City high school student goes tanning once every three to four months and says this legislation will create more of an annoyance than anything else.
"It seems more of a hassle to go tanning, especially when my mom is already OK with it," Pyne said. "As a parent, I wouldn’t want the legislature to do that because they’ve already given their son or daughter permission. I think parents may not like that very much."
Pyne’s mother, Samantha, on the other hand, supports it.
"I think it’s a good thing for the kids because it makes the parents aware, more than just signing a piece of paper," Samantha said.
Samantha is not as concerned with Ashley as she is with other kids.
"My daughter does it so seldom," Samantha said. "I’ve seen some of her friends that are completely brown and looked like they’ve been baked."
The bill was constructed mostly for teens who may be tanning at an unhealthy rate.
"There are some young people that can get addicted to tanning salons," Jones said. "One of the Miss America pageant contestants wrote that she got addicted and she had to go several times a week. I don’t think kids are aware of the dangers that tanning does."
Swensen says Summit County will benefit from the legislation.
"It’s probably a good thing because we look at tanning salons as causing skin cancer, melanoma," Swensen said. "They are a beauty aid, people like it and it makes them feel better. We’ve never regulated them before because it’s a double-edged sword. If we regulated them, then we are permitting them to operate."
Jones said Davis County has already adopted a similar policy and the results have limited minors from tanning.
"The early indications are, it is having an effect on fewer minors visiting tanning salons, which is precisely what we are trying to achieve," Jones said.
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