Laws implementing restrictions on indoor tanning have become much more common at the state and local levels as a means to reduce skin cancer among young adults. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 16 states and Washington DC prohibit those under age 18 from using tanning beds. Other states have a variety of tanning laws including requiring parental permission for a minor to use a tanning bed and public school curriculum on the risks of indoor tanning. Recently the CDC evaluated relationships between state indoor tanning laws and indoor tanning behaviors among high school students.
Researchers found that, in 2009, over 36% of female high school students lived in areas that had no laws restricting indoor tanning. That percentage decreased to 10% by 2015. The percentage of female high school students living in areas with age restrictions increased from 3% in 2009 to over 57% in 2015.
Among students living in areas with no indoor tanning laws, 25% of female high school students reported tanning within the previous 12 months.
Among students living in areas with no indoor tanning laws, 25% of female high school students reported tanning within the previous 12 months. Nearly 20% of those living in areas with parental permission laws and about 7% of those living in areas with age restriction laws reported indoor tanning within the last 12 months.
Though the percentage of male high school students who reported tanning indoors dropped from 6% in 2009 to 3% in 2015, neither of the types of laws assessed in this study were found to have contributed to this drop. Non-Hispanic White students were the most likely to report using indoor tanning services, with rates three times higher than other racial and ethnic groups.
Summertime means vacation for many students, but it is also the time when many organizations begin warning people about the dangers of ultraviolet light exposure. The American Academy of Dermatology wants everyone to become a “Skin Cancer Hero” by learning how to prevent and detect skin cancer. Healthy People 2020 objectives go beyond the dangers of sunburns to include reducing indoor tanning among adolescent girls and adults. Despite these campaigns, indoor tanning habits persist among high school students and young adults.
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