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New Studies Show Laws Against Teens Using Indoor Tanning Ineffective

Posted: December 9, 2008

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About 20 states now have some law aimed at curbing minors' use of indoor tanning, said Vilma Cokkinides, an American Cancer Society researcher who was one of the study's authors.

The research involved telephone surveys of more than 1,100 youths ages 11–18. The surveys were done in 1998 and 2004 in the 48 continental states. Eight states in 1998 had new or fairly new laws to restrict minors' access to indoor tanning. Each of the laws allowed young people to use tanning parlors provided they had some form of parental consent, in some cases a note from a parent. Only one—California—had a stricter prohibition, banning children 14 and under from using tanning facilities.

In those eight states, about 8%of youths used indoor tanning in both 1998 and 2004—no change over the six years. Nationally, about 10% of youths used indoor tanning in those years, likewise holding static.

The study was published in Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society. Neutrogena Corp., a Los Angeles-based manufacturer of skin care products, paid for the study, but the company had no say in its design or analysis or the writing of the report, Cokkinides said.

Cokkinides said lax enforcement may be a factor behind the ineffectiveness of the laws, but her surveys did not ask kids if they had ever been turned away while trying to use an indoor tanning parlor.