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Many Tanning Salons Not Compliant With State Laws, Study Finds

Friday, November 03, 2017
Meghan Rothschild learned the dangers of indoor tannin and now speaks out about its consequences. - Photo courtesy of Meghan Rothschild
Meghan Rothschild learned the dangers of indoor tanning and now speaks out about its consequences. - Photo courtesy of Meghan Rothschild
Meghan Rothschild knows the dangers of indoor tanning. She began frequent trips to tanning salons when she was 17 to mask her light complexion, which she was often ridiculed for.

But the bronze glow she once loved became her worst nightmare. At 20 years old, she was diagnosed with stage 2 malignant melanoma — three years after she began hitting the tanning booth.

Since then, Rothschild has used her voice as a melanoma survivor to keep teenagers out of tanning beds. And, more than 40 states and the District of Columbia agree with her. State lawmakers created legislation that limits the use of indoor tanning devices for people under 18.

However, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association discovered not all tanning salons are obeying the law. In fact, 37.2 percent of the salons surveyed overall were noncompliant with state legislation.

“I’m appalled, but not surprised by these findings,” Rothschild, marketing and public relations manager of IMPACT Melanoma, said in an interview with CURE. “This is a challenging restriction to enforce. I’m sure salons are worried about their bottom lines. I wish owners would understand that they are literally giving young people cancer and that they need to follow the regulations.”

Researchers conducted telephone surveys of 427 tanning salons in 42 states and Washington D.C. Ten salons — only seven were found in Hawaii — were randomly selected from each location with tanning laws for minors.

The surveys were conducted between February 2015 and April 2016 by investigators posing as minors attempting to schedule a tanning appointment. They followed a script stating that they wanted a tan before leaving for an upcoming family vacation. Investigators then asked about cost and if a parent needed to be present.

Overall, 159 of the 427 tanning salons were out of compliance, and most of them were in rural locations and southern regions of the United States. Additionally, this was more common in independently owned salons, in states with younger age groups being regulated and in states with more than one tanning regulation.

“Because rural, southern and independently owned U.S. tanning salons were less compliant with state legislation, further targeted assessment of compliance with the law and public education may be necessary,” stated the authors.

The most common reason for a salon being labeled noncompliant noted by the researchers was for allowing tanning without parental consent at the banned age (32.1 percent). Other reasons for noncompliance included: allowing tanning without the required parental consent or accompaniment (27.7 percent); allowing written parental consent only when parental accompaniment was required (19.5 percent); banning tanning at the allowed age (11.3 percent); allowing parental accompaniment at the banned age (5 percent); allowing tanning without asking the minor’s age (3.1 percent); and allowing tanning at the banned age (1.3 percent).

Three states, Illinois, New Hampshire and Oregon, had 100 percent compliance. However, these states also have tanning bans for anyone under 18. Alabama had the worst compliance at zero percent, per the study authors.

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