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LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: California takes hard line on tanning
October 11, 2011
By Kerry Cavanaugh
You wouldn't think that tanning salons would be that popular in sunny Southern California, but the quest for that perfect golden hue has spawned more salons than there are Starbucks or McDonald's.
Now, with more research linking the use of tanning beds with skin cancer, California becomes the first state in the nation to ban tanning beds for children under 18.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed the ban into law on Sunday, and it takes effect on Jan. 1.
It's hard to believe that a state known for beaches and bronzed bodies would take a hard line on tanning. But somewhere along the line, the pursuit of a man-made tan became a bad lifestyle choice - on par with smoking or gambling - that should be off limits for teens.
The research doesn't look good for tanning enthusiasts. Research published this month found that the type of ultraviolet rays used in tanning beds can penetrate to a deep layer of skin that is especially vulnerable to cancer-causing changes.
Indeed, California is just a few steps ahead of other states in tightening rules on tanning bed usage. New York and New Jersey are considering similar bans, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is pondering a national prohibition of tanning beds for teens.
And in a sign of how public opinion has changed on tanning, there wasn't much outcry last year when the Obama administration imposed a 10 percent tax on tanning salons to help pay for the health care overhaul. Tanning now has a sin tax, just like cigarettes.
But, it's hard to say if California's new law signals the beginning of the end of tanning beds. Tommy Panella of Suntans to Go in Sherman Oaks said tanning salons were real popular with teens in the mid-1980s. Now?
"Maybe one or two kids tan a year and they come in with their parents," he said. "The kids don't do it nowadays."
That is just what state Sen. Ted Lieu would like to hear. The Torrance Democrat wrote the teen tan ban at the request of the California Society of Dermatology & Dermatological Surgery. While the bill failed to pass the state senate in 2007, he found more support this time around in part because of the growing medical evidence of the risks associated with tanning.
But that doesn't mean the Golden State's teens need to give up the bronzed look, Lieu said, nor do they need to bake on the beach to get it.
"The best thing to do," he said, "would be for them to walk into the same tanning salon and get a spray tan."
Kerry Cavanaugh is a columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.