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New law bans indoor tanning for minors

Last modified: 6/3/2015 12:10:00 AM
When she was a student at Concord High School, McKenzie Thorpe was a dancer. As preparation for performances on stage, she would go tanning almost every day, starting as young as 14.

Now 19, Thrope realizes indoor tanning has harmful effects – but she still tans at salons. She tans indoors less frequently now – about once a week – and gets spray tans.

“When you’re under 18, you don’t care how much you go,” she said.

Although still an indoor tanning customer, Thorpe sees the new legislation that disallows minors from indoor tanning as beneficial.

“I don’t think anybody should be tanning. (But) I still tan,” Thrope said yesterday after visiting Tanorama in Concord.

Beginning this summer, most teenagers will not be able to use a tanning bed as Thorpe had as a high school student. Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill into law yesterday that prohibits anyone under the age of 18 to tan at a tanning facility in New Hampshire. The law takes effect in 60 days.

“It is clear that use of tanning beds, especially at young ages, increases the risk of developing skin cancer later in life,” Hassan said in a statement. “We must always be working to protect the health and safety of our young people, and by prohibiting minors from using tanning beds – just as we prohibit their use of alcohol and tobacco – we can help reinforce the fact that tanning poses serious health risks and decrease the risk of skin cancer for our younger generations.”

Katie Trottier, a certified tanning consultant at Tanorama, disagreed with the necessity for a tanning ban for minors but did not think that the law would significantly affect business. Trottier, 21, started tanning when she was 15.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea that they banned it,” she said. “They can’t stop teenagers from going out in the sun.”

Of the Tanorama customers who are under 18, the majority come to the salon for spray tans, Trottier said.

“Usually the younger girls will come in before prom,” she said.

Spray tans are not prohibited in the new law.

Under the law that has been in place for the past decade, anyone under 18 needs written consent from their parent or legal guardian to use a tanning device. The guardian must be present at the tanning facility to sign the document and must resign a document after 12 subsequent uses of the tanning device by the minor.

Thorpe said her mother was not happy to give consent for her daughter to tan, but did sign the documents.

Trottier, however, said she sees advantages to tanning and her mother agreed. When she was in high school, Trottier said she had acne, which tanning at salons helped ease.

“My mother understood that. She signed for me,” Trottier said. “Tanning does help.”

Opponents to the bill thought that parents should be able to determine if their children can tan indoors, the Associated Press reported.

Indoor tanning at a young age is harmful, according to a report from the surgeon general on preventing skin cancer.

“Initiating indoor tanning at younger ages appears to be more strongly related to lifetime skin cancer risk, possibly because of the accumulation of exposure over time from more years of tanning. The magnitude of increased risk with younger age at initiation varies because of differences in collection and reporting of data, but studies consistently show an increase in risk,” the report reads.

“I think (skin cancer) is one of those things you think won’t happen to me,” Thorpe said about the effects of indoor tanning. “But, I mean, it could.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Washington, D.C., and nine states – in addition to New Hampshire – prohibit minors from indoor tanning. Vermont, one of the states that prohibits anyone under 18 to tan indoors, passed its law about three years ago.

There are other efforts in the state to reduce indoor tanning for younger generations. The University of New Hampshire is considering eliminating the ability to use Cat’s Cache, a debit account linked to student IDs, for tanning at off-campus tanning facilities.

“The university has done a significant amount of education around the health risks related to tanning and a discussion has been underway (for several months at least) about discontinuing the ability to use Cat’s Cache to obtain the service. The hope is to not have it as part of the card for the next academic year. The university is committed to not facilitating or encouraging tanning,” Erika Mantz, director of UNH Media Relations, said in an email.

(Susan Doucet can be reached at 369-3309, sdoucet@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @susan_doucet.)


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