Undercover docs find teens still tanning, despite laws

Investigation in 42 states and D.C. found that teen tanning laws were only enforced 37 per cent of the time

ByDawn Heefner, HealthCheck Producer WPVI logo
Wednesday, October 25, 2017

CHICAGO, Ill. (WPVI) -- Researchers took a page from investigative reporters and consumer advocates, going undercover to expose the "naked truth" about America's teen tanning laws.

For the most part, those laws aren't being enforced.

They posed as minors to check compliance with laws in 42 states and the District of Columbia designed to restrict teen access to tanning beds.

After contacting 427 tanning salons, asking whether minors could tan, only 37.2% complied with the laws.

Delaware, California, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Vermont and Washington all ban the use of tanning beds for all minors under 18.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey have slightly less restrictive laws.

They ban indoor tanning for teens under 17, and require 17 year-olds to get parental consent.

Skin cancer among teens has been rising in recent years.

Health experts say banning indoor tanning for minors could prevent more than 61,000 melanomas, over 6,700 deaths, and save nearly $350 million in treatment costs.

In 2009, a World Health Organization research group declared UV-light-emitting tanning bed use to be a risk factor for all forms of skin cancer, including deadly melanomas.

A 2016 report by Bloomberg News says the number of tanning salons has dropped by 30% in recent years.