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Laws Governing Indoor Tanning by Teens Don't Work
Date:12/8/2008

Study says lax enforcement probably to blame; experts cite risk of skin cancer

MONDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Policies enacted by states to restrict and limit indoor tanning by children under 18 aren't working, cancer researchers report.

That's a worrisome trend, because ultraviolet radiation, whether from the sun or indoor tanning facilities, has been linked to skin cancer, the most common malignancy in the United States, with 1 million new cases in 2008.

"Policies have little effect," said study co-author Vilma Cokkinides, the American Cancer Society's strategic director of risk factor surveillance.

For the study, Cokkinides and her colleagues measured the effect of state policies by conducting two telephone surveys, one in 1998 and another in 2004. The researchers polled more than 2,800 American children, ages 11 through 18, and their parents and guardians, asking if the teens had used an indoor tanning facility or sunlamp in the year prior.

The results: Use of indoor tanning salons changed very little in the years studied, increasing from 10 percent in 1998 to 11 percent in 2004. When the researchers looked at the habits of teens in states with policies restricting indoor tanning by minors, the change in the rates wasn't considered statistically significant, the study found.

Fifty-eight percent of users reported burns from indoor tanning.

Enforcement issues probably explain why the restrictions aren't working, Cokkinides said. "One study [evaluated by the researchers] looked at enforcement and found poor compliance," she said. "Kids were able to bypass the restriction" either by lying about their age or because the establishment didn't ask, she said.

Nearly all states allow minors to use indoor tanning facilities if they are accompanied by a parent or have their consent, the researchers noted. But more stringent legal measures and more education are needed to reduce
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