New Jersey passes law restricting use of tanning beds and sprays by teenagers

by Emily Isola
On April 1, Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law restricting access to indoor tanning beds or booths and spray tans that will go into effect on Oct. 1.
The law bans minors under the age of 14 from using any form of indoor tanning. The use of tanning beds or booths will be prohibited for minors under the age of 17. Teens from 14 to 17 must have a parent or guardian present at their first session and a signed permission slip to spray tan. The same restrictions apply to 17-year-olds’ use of tanning beds.
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“I don’t  agree with the new tanning law because I feel it is not fair towards minors who want to use a tanning bed if they have parental consent,” said sophomore Victoria Caswell.
The new laws were enacted in response to the growing number of Americans who are diagnosed with skin cancer, the most common cancer in the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 3.5 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. Studies show that people who use a tanning bed before the age of 35 have a 75-percent greater chance of getting melanoma cancer. The hope is that with these new regulations the risk of minors developing skin cancer later on in their lives will
The law puts stricter restrictions on tanning beds, even though studies show that spray tans are not much safer. The active chemical in a spray tan, dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, can cause genetic mutations. Because the chemical is released into the air during a spray tan session, tanners can inhale the chemical into their bloodstreams.
After extensive studies, Dr. Rey Panettieri, a toxicologist and lung specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, concluded, “These compounds, in some cells, could actually promote the development of cancers or malignancies.”
Sophomore Natalie Letkowski has tried both spray tan and tanning beds. She is aware of the risks of tanning beds but prefers them because of the negative effects she suffered when spray tanning. “After my first experience getting a Mystic Spray Tan, I was diagnosed with tinea versicolor. It’s treatable and cannot always be blamed on spray tans, but that’s where my case originated,” said Natalie.
Tinea versicolor is a common, treatable fungal skin infection that results in spots or patches of lighter or darker skin pigmentation. Spray tans do not cause the spots but can make them more obvious. Tinea versicolor is treated with over-the-counter antibiotics and creams.
Not all medical professionals agree that tanning beds are always dangerous. Research by Dr. Joseph Mercola, Illinois physician and New York best-selling author, suggests that regular exposure to moderate levels of UV rays promotes healthy production of vitamin D in the body.
“Increased tanning bed use was NOT associated with melanoma,” said Dr. Mercola. The “natural glow” that tanning beds are notorious for producing is really healthier skin resulting from the vitamin D, he asserts.
Regardless of the risks and benefits of indoor tanning, the law will go into effect in October, and will most likely cause a drop in teen clientele at tanning salons, a group that represented 8.21 percent of the industry’s customers.
“Hopefully, the effect won’t be too drastic, considering the average age of our clientele is actually 25 to 40 years old,” said junior and Bella Bronze employee Tessa DeMaria.  “I’m most concerned about the new laws during prom season, which is when Bella Bronze gets crazy busy with customers between 15 and 17.”