More and more countries, along with several U.S. states, are banning indoor tanning altogether or restricting access to it, according to a new study.
Researchers found that between 2003 and 2011, the number of countries with age restrictions on indoor tanning jumped from two to 11. During that time, the number of US states restricting access also increased from three to 11.
"I think this shows a concern around the world, (a push) for more regulations on these instruments and more recognition of the dangers from using them," said Dr Robert Dellavalle, one of the study's authors from the University of Colorado, Denver.
Tanning beds and melanoma
A past study showed 24 out of 10 000 women who regularly used tanning beds developed melanoma compared to 17 out 10 000 women who rarely or never used them.
According to the authors of the new study, recognition from various organisations and associations, such as the World Health Organisation, paved the way for legislatures to implement bans and other restrictions on indoor tanning.
They found that in 2003, Brazil and France restricted access to tanning beds for those under 18 years old. By 2011, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Belgium, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland joined them by enacting restrictions.
Controlling the tan
Brazil, the researchers note, moved to a total ban on indoor tanning for people of all ages and the US implemented a 10% tax on tanning services as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
As for U.S. states, Wisconsin, Illinois and Texas had already restricted access for kids by 2003. They were joined by another eight states by 2011, which brought the total number to 12 with the addition of Vermont earlier this year, according to Dr Dellavalle.
More than 20 other states require a parent's consent before a minor uses a tanning bed, the researchers reported online July 9 in the Archives of Dermatology.
Dr June K Robinson, a research professor of dermatology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said that she believes parental consent laws hold little value.
"Parents may not even know that the child went to the indoor tanning parlour," she said, adding that kids can forge a parent's signature or possibly reuse a legitimate note.
But Dr Robinson, who is also the editor of the Archives of Dermatology, said she believes there are more laws restricting access to tanning beds on the way in the U.S.
"I believe what we are now seeing is other states are jumping on the bandwagon and we're going to see more restrictions," she said, but added that it will most likely happen state by state.
"I'm not sure we'll ever see a federal law," she said.
(Reuters, July 2012)