Legislation attempts to curb tanning

By Danielle Kaye

As the weather gets colder, tanning beds become more popular when people try to get that summer glow. It’s the extra little touch to that perfect outfit, the thing to go and do with your friends and can cost less than $20 a month.

“I don’t personally tan. I’ve never wanted to but I understand the appeal of why so many girls I know do,” said Hannah Walker, a history freshmen. “Society thinks that being tan is beautiful and just like anything you have to take into account the benefits and consequences.”

But while tanning is popular, the awareness of its dangers has become popular, too.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on Oct. 13 that makes it illegal for minors under 18 to use tanning beds. The law will take effect Jan. 1.

While tanning isn’t banned in Kentucky, the state has similar laws.

In February 2008, a law passed requiring “people younger than 14 years old be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when using a tanning bed,” according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Family and Health Services.

Also according to Kentucky law, “written parental consent is required for those older than 14 but younger than 18.”

Although these laws are in place, the majority of students at UK are unaffected since they are over 18.

Taylor Carden, a journalism sophomore, initially started tanning for prom to have that extra bit of color. She now tans three to four times a week for approximately 20 minutes a session.

“It’s bad and we all know it’s bad. It’s just like smoking cigarettes,” she said. “I never said it was a good habit to have.”

It is common for local tanning businesses to offer deals to college students. But Kentucky law also requires businesses with tanning beds to register with their local health department and have patrons sign a waiver.

“Many times, people don’t realize the dangers of tanning bed use and are unknowingly putting themselves at risk,” said Dr. William Hacker, the public health commissioner on the Cabinet’s website.

He said the changes made to the law were “designed to protect the public and inform them about the dangers of tanning.”

For minors, exposure to intense UV rays is even worse than it is for adults. Utilizing tanning beds before the age of 35 has shown to increase a person’s cancer risk by 75 percent, according to a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Effects from tanning and extended exposure to sun continue to impact American society with an estimated 59,940 people diagnosed with Melanoma a year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

With more than 45 tanning bed shops throughout the Lexington area, tanning is more accessible. While a tan may fade, the UV rays’ damage may not.