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Teen Tan Ban

<p>It is time for a nationwide ban on indoor ultraviolet teen tanning.</p>

It is time for a nationwide ban on indoor ultraviolet teen tanning.

Ultraviolet tanning beds cause cancer.  Yet astonishingly, tanning parlors profit from exposing minors to radiation.

Where is the shock and outrage that businesses are irradiating children?

Sure, kids can get UV exposure from the sun, and even get burned.  But allowing business to irradiate teens implies harmlessness.  Moreover, many tanning beds emit radiation multiple times stronger than summertime noonday sunlight.  

There is an increasing epidemiologic emergency in the U.S.: the rate of melanoma is skyrocketing among childbearing-age women.  This highly deadly cancer has been linked to tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation.

Additionally, UV tanning causes squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma.  There are more cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year than all other types of cancer combined.  Furthermore, tanning suppresses the immune system, leading to further illnesses and cancers.

As part of the health care bill, the U.S. added an indoor tanning parlor tax.  The willingness of the federal government to both acknowledge that indoor tanning is harmful and to tax it means there is national will to change this egregiously overlooked area.   It’s a good step, but now its time for a national teen tanning parlor ban. 

Banning a radiation-emitting device used on children in the United States has precedence.   Shoe-fitting fluoroscopes, used from 1922 until 1960, emitted X-ray radiation to see foot bones through a shoe.  They were a novelty; a child would have their foot irradiated to measure shoe size and could see the bones.  However, during those years, radiation was increasingly viewed negatively.  In 1946, the year after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the American Standards Association established fluoroscope “safe standard or tolerance dose,” per exposure.  In 1957, Pennsylvania became the first state to ban the use of such fluoroscopes. By 1960, they were banned throughout the U.S.

Incredibly, 50 years later, children are still being exposed to radiation.

This isn't a partisan issue.  Over 32 states now have some regulation on teen tanning, many passed by members of both parties.

Banning teen tanning is not nanny-ism.  Nanny-ism is forcing children to stay out of the sun, or to wear a hat or sunscreen.  This is about regulating businesses that exploit and harm children.  Some argue that the choice to allow children to use indoor tanning beds should rest with parents.  But no soundly thinking parent would allow their child on a field trip to Chernobyl. 

Perhaps the reason indoor tanning has not yet been banned is that the devastating results may not manifest for years.

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