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Many Tanning Salons Do Not Heed Youth Access Restrictions: Study

Despite known risks associated with indoor tanning, and laws banning use of the facilities by teens in several states, new research suggest that more than one-third of salons in the U.S. continue to allow minors to tan.

In a study published last month in the medical journal JAMA Dermatology, researchers from Wisconsin indicate that many facilities fail to abide by state laws prohibiting teens from using indoor tanning facilities. The laws were put into place due to concerns over increasing rates of skin cancer.

Research indicates indoor tanning before the age of 30 is linked to a six-fold increased risk of developing skin cancer, yet more and more young people are tanning. Other studies have indicated bans on teen indoor tanning have little effect in deterring teens from the harmful habit, putting a heavier burden on tanning salons to enforce the rules.

In this latest study, researchers conducted a telephone survey of more than 400 tanning salons in 42 states and the District of Columbia, with current indoor tanning legislation. The survey was conducted from February 1, 2015, to April 30, 2016.

Callers posed as minors asking to schedule an appointment for indoor tanning at 10 randomly selected salons from each state.

Overall, nearly 40% of salons, or about 160 salons, did not comply with state legislation prohibiting teens from using indoor tanning facilities, allowing what they thought were teens to book appointments for indoor tanning services. A similar study conducted in June concluded about 20% of salons were failing to comply to teen indoor tanning restrictions. This suggests the problem of noncompliance is worsening.

There were more non-compliant tanning salons in rural and southern areas. According to the survey, about 45% of salons in rural areas allowed teens to book appointments. Roughly 50% of salons in southern areas allowed teens under 18 to book tanning appointments.

Researchers also noted that about 44% of independent salons, salons not owned by larger corporations or chains, allowed teens to book indoor tanning appointments.

It also appeared that the more teen indoor tanning was regulated, the more defiant the tanning salons became.

More than half of salons in states with the most stringent regulations that prohibited younger teens from tanning were non-compliant. Additionally, roughly 50% of salons in states with more than one teen tanning regulation still allowed teens to book tanning appointments.

While the new study isn’t a representation of the entire country, it reveals statistically significant decreases in compliance are occurring in tanning salons across the U.S., the researchers concluded.

“Tanning salon compliance with state laws restricting access to minors is unsatisfactory, and monitoring and enforcement efforts are needed to ensure compliance with these laws that are intended to minimize the harmful effects of UV tanning in minors,” the study’s authors wrote.

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