Teen Tanning Bed Ban Enacted in New Jersey Due to Cancer Fears

A New Jersey bill recently signed into law by Governor Chris Christie bans minors under the age of 17 from using tanning beds and children under the age of 14 from using spray tanning facilities.  

The state law, which follows other strict state tanning laws, indicates that minors over the age of 17 can only use commercial tanning facilities if a parent or guardian is present for the initial consultation.

The bill comes a year after New Jersey mother, Patricia Krentcil was arrested for allegedly allowing her five-year-old daughter into a tanning booth, causing severe tanning burns. There has also been increased concern nationwide about the safety of indoor tanning and the potential cancer risk, which studies indicate many children and young adults are ignoring.

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“Confidence in the current laws, rather than a rush to add new and perhaps unnecessary provisions, would have seemed the appropriate legislative response,” Governor Chris Christie said in a statement. “Nonetheless, I sign this bill because of the documented and well-understood risks associated with misuse of indoor tanning systems.”

Concerns About Tanning Bed Safety

Other states have enacted similar tanning laws which restrict minors from tanning. California and Vermont completely restrict all minors under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning facilities, while nearly 30 states offer other restrictions on minor use of tanning beds.

The move for stricter teen tanning laws has caused some parents and officials to praise legislators, like Governor Jerry Brown of California, for preventing skin cancer in teens.

Currently 15 states offer no restrictions for minors and indoor tanning. Ten states, including Oregon, Arizona, Georgia and Ohio, require parental permission for minors under the age of 18 and Wisconsin offers a complete ban on the tanning of youth under the age of 16.

Many health officials say tanning bed use for minors can be very dangerous. Research has found that exposure to UV-A and UV-B rays may cause skin damage and even cancer. Researchers determined that the younger the person is when they begin tanning the higher the risk of developing melanoma, a nearly 75% increased risk if tanning starts before 35.

A study published last July found that tanning beds cause nearly one in every 10 cases of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

Another study conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine found 65% of tanning salon operators in Missouri allowed children as young as 10 years old to use indoor tanning bed facilities.

Approximately 70,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma each year, causing nearly 9,000 deaths annually. Another 170,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are found each year, linked directly to indoor tanning bed use.

The World Health Organization added tanning beds to the list of known carcinogens in 2009. In February, the Canadian government joined the national controversial conversation on tanning bed risks with the decision to add stronger health warnings to tanning beds about the dangers associated with tanning bed use and developing skin cancer.

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