Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to decide if the states youth should have only limited access to tanning beds. Legislation that would regulate access to tanning salons for those under 18 is currently under consideration by the Senate. Pennsylvania would join 36 other states that have already imposed similar restrictions.
The proposal would make it illegal for individuals under 16 to use indoor tanning facilities while individuals who are 17 would only be allowed access with parental consent. The regulations would also impose an annual fee on salons, require they post a notification that tanning is carcinogenic, and require inspections of facilities.
According to Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology President Justin Vujevich, melanoma is the number one form of cancer among individual’s ages 25-29 and one indoor tanning session increases the likelihood of the disease by 20 percent.
While exposure to Ultraviolet light from natural sunlight is also harmful, the deliberate nature of indoor tanning increases the risk.
“Indoor tanning is particularly troubling because it’s really unnecessary,” said Vujevich, “it’s really practiced solely for short term cosmetic reasons. So, really individuals who are utilizing tanning beds are intentionally putting their own health at risk.”
The seemingly addictive nature of indoor tanning is also a concern for Vujevich, who says, “when can I go back to tan” is often many of his patients’ first question.
According to Vujevich, Pittsburgh has the second highest per capita rate of tanning beds in the nation.
“Pittsburgh is not known for its sunny days, so people think that they need to get a healthy glow to either feel better or to get a little bit of a tan and that’s why its particularly problematic in this area because we see a lot of young patients now developing melanomas in their twenties,” said Vujevich”
The tanning industry often takes a stand on the issue by suggesting tanning helps fight Vitamin D deficiencies. Vujevich say while this is true, deficiencies can also be treated with diet and vitamin supplementation.
House Bill 1259 passed the House and has been assigned to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee for consideration.