Does Legislation Curb Indoor Tanning Demand Among Adolescents?
Expects Find Progress in Limiting Use Among Teens and Young Adults. New legislation is promoting a steady decline in indoor tanning usage among adolescents. Despite industry denials, medical experts have long recognized the risks of indoor tanning. A new study aggregated a collection of data by scouring six databases of peer reviewed literature. The researchers surveyed multiple analyses on the legislative impact of indoor tanning bans. Each study examined various aspects of age-restricting legislation such as the prevalence of tanning before and after legislation, use in states that lacked legislation, and differences between states with new and old legislation. Another studies suggested one in six melanoma diagnosis’ in Australia would likely have been prevented if the patients avoided indoor tanning. Policymakers in particular focused on young people due to their susceptibility to engage in the practice in spite of the well documented health consequences.
Indoor Tanning Among Adolescents is Generally Popular and Uniquely Hazardous
Young women represent the largest demographic for the tanning industry, which notoriously has a poor record at communicating the risks of their service to the public. 29.3% of non-Hispanic female American high school students reported partaking in indoor tanning. Many participants report a belief that the state of one’s tan reflects “a central aspect of being a beautiful or attractive person.” The need to maintain this ideal image is to prevent an image “associated with appearance surveillance and body dissatisfaction.” In reality, younger users face unique risks compared to adult counterparts. Two studies attributed a spike in adult diagnosis’ of melanoma to excessive UV exposure as young adults. Additionally, young individuals who were diagnosed with basil cell carcinoma were more likely to develop a tanning dependence if they engaged in the practice after diagnosis.
Legislation is Beginning to Show Signs of Decreased Demand
Since the WHO recommended age limitations on indoor tanning in 2011, legislators have been responding. 44 U.S. states and the District of Columbia passed age restriction legislation. In each study that examined the subject matter, researchers identified a decrease in indoor tanning use among adolescents. Within these studies, female use consistently decreased. There were also additional findings of lower tanning use in states that passed youth prevention legislation compared to states that lacked legislation. The researchers found an overall declining trend in youth tanning use.
Despite a downward trend of youth indoor tanning use following the passage of legislation, many adolescents are still visiting salons in spite of prohibitive laws. Effective prohibitive laws have demonstrated the potential to dramatically reduce skin cancer rates and health care costs. Some modeling suggests if all youth were banned from attending tanning salons and the prohibition was effective, then these laws could prevent 61,839 melanoma cases and 6735 melanoma deaths. However, as the research suggests, policymakers can avoid some of the more adverse health effects of indoor tanning by constructing laws that better promote widespread compliance, enforcement, and tailored legislation. The occasionally negligible statistical decline in tanning use indicate American legislation has been slow to induce a widespread decline in tanning behaviors.