California bans minors from using tanning beds

Governor Jerry Brown of California (photo courtesy of Freedom To Marry).

Many American teenagers use tanning salons each day, but some may not be aware of the dangers they pose to their bodies. California Governor Jerry Brown aims to remedy this, as he signed a bill on Sunday prohibiting minors, under the age of 18, from using ultraviolet tanning salons.

Artificial tanning facilities utilize the same ultraviolet radiation produced naturally by the Sun, which has been identified by the World Health Organization and the National Institute of Health as carcinogens. Sunburns, as well as both natural and artificial tanning, cause damage to the skin’s DNA, often resulting in the genetic defects that lead to cancer. According to Health Central, studies revealed that being exposed to tanning beds before the age of 35 increases the risk of Melanoma by 75 percent.

CNN Health notes that there is truly no safe form of tanning, as prolonged sun exposure can lead to many of the same dangers as artificial tanning, such as melanoma, basal Cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is also linked to premature skin aging and damage to the immune system.

The new law is part of a broad effort to improve the health and well being of Californians, specifically the California youth, according to a statement from the Governor’s office. While there are many laws in the industry regulating the amount of ultraviolet exposure customers receive, many studies have shown that salons often exceed limits that are generally regarded as being safe, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Despite urging from the World Health Organization to ban the use of artificial tanning beds amongst teenagers, this is the first law to enact such regulations. The state of California had previously banned children under the age of 14 to use tanning beds, but allowed minors between the ages of 14 and 18 to tan with parental consent.

The new law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2012, according to the Governor’s office.