Tanning Salon Compliance With State Laws Restricting Access to Minors Remains Unsatisfactory

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Erik Stratman, MD

Chairman, Department of Dermatology
Marshfield Clinic, WI

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The United States Food and Drug Administration has classified tanning beds as cancer-causing. Tanning bed exposure has been linked with increased risk of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer that preferentially affects young people.  While no current federal ban exists on indoor tanning of minors, there have been over 40 states (43) and the District of Columbia that passed laws limiting the use of tanning beds for minors.  Despite these laws, nearly 1.9 million high school students in the United States are tanning in tanning salons.

In this study, researchers posed as minors called 427 tanning salons in 42 states and the District of Columbia.  Following a script that included questions like ‘would my mom have to come with me? I was hoping to come after school.’ Salons were randomly selected by zip code, with 10 salons selected for each state.  Overall, 37.2% of tanning salons were out of compliance with state legislation. Illinois, New Hampshire, and Oregon were the only states scoring 100% compliant with the state law for those tanning salons contacted.  Alabama scored the lowest with 0% compliant for those tanning salons contacted.  Statistically significant decreases in compliance were found for rural, independently owned, and Southern US tanning salons.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response:  Tanning salon compliance with state laws restricting access to minors is unsatisfactory. Better monitoring and enforcement efforts are needed to ensure compliance with these laws intended to minimize harmful effects of ultraviolet tanning in minors.

Public health significance:  It is estimated that banning indoor tanning for minors less than 18 years-of-age would prevent 61,839 melanomas, 6735 melanoma deaths, and save $342.9 million in treatment costs. The World Health Organization supports a ban on indoor tanning for anyone under the age of 18.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Each state only had 10 tanning salons randomly sampled.  While these results demonstrate a clear problem with compliance, larger samples from individual states would provide more information about the extent of compliance issues with each state’s laws.

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Williams MS, Buhalog B, Blumenthal L, Stratman EJ. Tanning Salon Compliance Rates in States With Legislation to Protect Youth Access to UV Tanning. JAMA Dermatol. Published online October 25, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.3736

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.


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Last Updated on October 26, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD