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Tanning beds, teens don’t mix
by Melinda Williams
Nov 21, 2011 | 876 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CLEARFIELD— Teens and tanning are two things which should not be brought together, Davis County Health Director Lewis Garrett believes.

Because of this, he’ll be working on tightening teens’ access to tanning salons in the next state legislative session.

The Davis Board of Health recently revisited the issue they first discussed in 2006, and board members are still no more excited to have teens use tanning beds than is Lewis.

“(Board members) had a robust discussion on a possible ban on tanning for minors,” Garrett said.

In 2006, the Davis Board of Health became the first local board of health in Utah to restrict access by minors to tanning beds because of the risk of cancer.

The regulation passed by the board then required parental consent in person whenever a teen used a commercial tanning bed.

In 2007, the State Legislature passed a similar bill, because there was some indications teens were leaving Davis County and its restrictions for nearby counties without restrictions.

The law passed by the state said that a parent’s consent was only needed once, with parents determining how many times a teen could tan.

Since then, a University of Utah medical student conducted a study indicating that many tanning salons aren’t obeying the regulation, with many teens not asked for a parental consent form.

Here in Davis County, Garrett believes the regulation is being adhered to better.

“While I can’t guarantee it, our inspectors believe we’re tracking it a little better here,” he said.

A 20-year cancer study conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University completed since 2007 seems to show “the cancer risk is even higher than we thought in 2006,” Garrett said.

That study indicates that for every four tanning session per year a young person has, the risk of basal and squamous cell carcinoma rises by 15 percent and the risk of melanoma increases by 11 percent.

“This study indicates the younger you are, the more damage you may be doing,” he said.

Garrett said some states, including California have banned tanning bed use by young people.

He is concerned that Utah teens not only tan outside during the summer, but get more exposure by tanning all winter with tanning beds.

“It’s not a good idea,” he said.

Garrett plans on meeting with state Sen. Patricia Jones, D-Salt Lake City, who sponsored the 2007 legislation to see if the tanning bed issue may be addressed again this year.

Restrictions could include increased fines for tanning bed shop owners who don’t tow the line with parental consent forms.
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