Washington D.C. joins more than 40 states that have put laws in place to protect minors from the highly dangerous act of indoor tanning. While that is a good thing in theory, laws are useless when they’re not obeyed.
A study cited within the linked source article revealed that almost 40% of tanning salons flout state laws, and many do so with little-to-no consequences.
A Burning Issue
Salons allowing teens to tan is not only an illegal act in most states, it’s also a morally reprehensible one. Most teenagers don’t have a complete understanding of the numerous hazards that tanning has on their health. And many who do are willing to take their chances in order to placate their vanity. It’s no great revelation that minors don’t always utilize the best judgement, which is exactly why these laws must be enforced regardless of the cost to a salon’s bottom line.
Tanning significantly increases the risk of developing skin cancer or, even worse, melanoma. The fact is that more people get skin cancer from tanning than get lung cancer from smoking. That statistic is staggering, and tanning salon owners know it. They also know that most of their young clientele don’t.
Salons promote tanning beds as peaceful, innocent diversions that make you look and feel great. These shysters are the present-day Marlboro Men. They’re projecting a harmful product as safe, while counting on the ignorance of youth to swell their coffers.
If a bar or store were to be caught selling alcohol or cigarettes to a minor, it could very well lose its license while the person who sold it loses his or her job. Law enforcement takes this issue seriously, as it should. Police routinely set up stings to discourage the practice and to keep businesses on their toes. Such stings should also be expanded to include indoor tanning salons. Unfortunately, tanning doesn’t yet have the same stigma attached to it that smoking does. It should though, because it can be just as dangerous.
Perhaps in time and with increased education tanning salons will go the way of cigarette machines and smoking sections. We can only hope. But what about the countless lives that will be disrupted or lost between that time and this?
This isn’t like the 1960’s prior to the Surgeon General’s smoking proclamation. We already know far too much about the dangers of tanning to be this passive. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the world, yet it continually flies under the radar while taking a back seat in both funding and prestige to other diseases.
It’s time to get serious about enforcing existing tanning laws and holding salon owners accountable. By doing so, we can help prevent the destruction of countless young lives.
*Additional source articles: Health.usnews.com
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