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Under Age Tanning: California Takes a Stand

I went to a tanning salon once . . . only once. I was about 16, and my mother had convinced me to go with her. I have the sort of English skin that burns within seconds - as though the sun and I are simply sworn enemies. My mother (who somehow doesn't burn even when she covers herself in oil) thought I was too pale, and so we headed to the tanning salon. At the salon, I declined the option of donning a heart-shaped sticker (for a heart-shaped tan line), and I stepped into the impossibly small circular box and closed the door. Naked and surrounded by lights, I read the instructions - hold the strap above my head . . . don't touch the lights less than an inch away on all sides . . . stand in the most uncomfortable position possible. Regretting the decision already, I pushed the button and an industrial fan assaulted me with a hurricane of air while I essentially microwaved myself with lights capable of both blinding and burning me. I never went back, but millions of teenagers today are practically addicted to tanning. California teenagers, however, are now going to have to spend more time outside, on our beautiful beaches, if they want to maintain their tan. As of January 1st of this year, minors cannot legally use tanning beds in the State of California. While 31 other states have tanning restrictions for minors, California is the first state to completely ban the use of tanning beds for anyone under the age of 18. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “the incidence of melanoma is on the rise”, increasing by 3% a year. Caucasian women aged 15 - 39 are the most affected demographic, and melanoma is the second most common cancer of women in their 20s. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Dermatology all condemn the use of artificial tanning devices for minors. Could California be the first of many states to follow? What are your thoughts?