Banning the Burn

California teens looking to emulate their Jersey Shore heroes by fake baking like there’s no tomorrow will have to make do with more trips to the gym and Laundromat because tanning salons are now off limits.

Perfecting the G-T-L combo just got a lot harder for pale-skinned kids under the age of 18 thanks to a new bill signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown. The new legislation was made official early Sunday and makes California the first state in the nation to ban high school students from using tanning beds.

Prior to the new law going into effect, using tanning beds was illegal in California for those 14 and under, but those ages 15-17 could tan with their parents’ permission. However, that ends today.

While the news may be a huge bummer for kids, who despise looking pasty white, many parents, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics couldn’t be happier by the new law.

Doctors point to studies conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer to illustrate their reason for backing the ban on fake tanning. The agency classifies tanning beds as “carcinogenic to humans” — and ranks them up there with radon gas and plutonium in regards to harming kids.

The American Academy of Dermatology and the American Medical Association also warn parents to keep their kids away from tanning beds. Health experts say adolescent girls, who make up roughly 70 percent of tanning salons’ customer base, are especially at risk for melanoma.

I grew up in Hawaii where tanning salons are practically non-existent. We like to get our skin cancer the old-fashion way—straight from the sun.

I really shouldn’t kid about melanoma. Unfortunately, I am at high risk for skin cancer due to the excess sun exposure I received as a teen. As a parent, I don’t dare allow my child to play outside without slathering sunscreen on her first, and I wouldn’t let her get within 10 miles of a tanning bed.

If you are still not convinced that fake baking is bad for your teen, consider that a 2010 study found that the risk of melanoma is 74% higher in people who tan indoors, compared with people who stayed away from tanning beds.

Do you allow your teens to visit tanning salons?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.