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Soyer: Ban indoor tanning for youth

BY HANNAH SOYER | FEBRUARY 12, 2015 5:00 AM

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Iowa lawmakers are working to pass a law that would effectively ban indoor UV tanning for anyone under the age of 18.  The bill was introduced by Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, and has been faced with opposition from salon owners and tanners. However, the law is definitely something that should be taken into serious consideration.

Everybody knows that tanning contributes heavily to the risk of skin cancer, and no one argues that skin cancer is a good thing. What people do seem to be upset about, however, is that this law would take away personal freedoms of people to choose whether they want to expose themselves to such risk, along with the salon’s choice to require parental consent for anyone under 18, something that some tanning salons practice.

But what about cigarettes? They contribute to the risk of cancer, and they are banned for anyone under the age of 18. The premise of this decision is that once people turn 18, they will be better informed on the health risks that such behavior will cause and more likely to take these into consideration before participating. Why shouldn’t this be the same for indoor tanning? Like smoking cigarettes, tanning is a behavior encouraged by peer pressure and the superficial society in which we live. We tan to look good for this wedding or that dance, and even though no one may be telling us outright that we should tan, the idea that it is the cool thing to do is perpetuated by others talking about it. This feeling to fit in and do what everyone else is doing is inherently more common among teenagers.

According to the National Institutes of Health, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. If the risk of skin cancer could be reduced among teenagers, then perhaps when these teenagers become adults, their risk of skin cancer will continue to be low, because less of them will likely choose to tan.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 17 percent of teens have reported using tanning beds, and of the 30 million people who tan indoors annually, 2.3 million are teens. Perhaps some salon’s resistance to this law is that it would significantly decrease their business. But this is weighing people’s health against someone losing business. I understand not wanting to lose customers whose business you rely on, but at some point, we have to realize that some sacrifices will have to be made.


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