Potential End to Teen Tanning Bed Use
March 12, 2015
As spring break draws near, some teenagers are visiting tanning salons to achieve a perfect glow before heading to the beach. However, a new law being considered by the Iowa legislature could put a stop to minors using tanning beds. If the law passes, Iowa would be the 11th state to ban the use of tanning beds for anyone under the age of 18. Dr. Susan Wall of Iowa City Dermatology supports this bill.
“Tanning beds cause more cases of skin cancer than cigarettes cause cases lung cancer,” Wall said. “We know that these laws are effective. We have laws saying that minors cannot buy cigarettes.”
Wall has talked with Iowa Senator Joe Bolkcom and State Representatives Dave Jacoby and Vicki Lensing about the bill.
“The Iowa Dermatology Society was promoting the tanning bed legislation that proposes to outlaw tanning in those under 18. There was a group of nine dermatologists who went [to Des Moines] to do skin cancer screening on legislators.” Wall said. “While we were there we talked to legislators about the tanning bed bill.”
An amendment to the bill that would allow people ages 16 and 17 to use tanning beds with a parent’s permission was shot down by the House. Currently, Iowa is one of only nine states that does not have any restrictions regarding tanning bed use. Wall explained why some people feel that the availability of tanning beds should not be restricted.
“I know that there are many independent lines of people in Iowa that feel it is their parental right to make their own decisions about the safety of tanning beds,” she said.
Ellie Dixon ‘17 has used tanning beds in the past, and explained how other family members played a part in her starting to tan at the age of 15.
“I was just getting really pale in the winter and my mom and sister always used them.” Dixon said. “I guess I just kind of inherited wanting to. My mom just asked me if I wanted to go with her and that’s how I started.”
Along with parental push back, some businesses are against the bill too, according to Wall.
“I definitely feel a tanning bed law needs to be passed. This is the third year we have tried to get one passed, and there is a fairly strong lobby from the tanning bed salon owners that are not in favor of a tanning bed law.”
According to the FDA, exposure to UV lights can increase the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma. With this in mind, Dixon decided to stop using tanning beds last year.
“I talked to a lot of people and I realized how bad it was for my skin and that I didn’t really need it.” Dixon said.
Wall mentioned that there are other, healthier alternatives to tanning.
“Tanning beds can age skin prematurely, causing the skin to appear leathery and wrinkled,” Wall said. “I understand how appearance is an important part of their self image, and if they feel they want a tan look to their skin, the alternative would be to use a spray tan or a self tanning cream.”
Although she no longer uses them, Dixon still understand why people want to use tanning beds.
“I guess it just makes you feel more confident about yourself,” Dixon said. “Some people aren’t confident when they’re pale, and I’m kind of one of those people.”