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Spectator editorial: Tanning teens

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When The Who sang about a teenage wasteland, they weren’t exactly singing about tanning salons. But they might as well have been.

According to a Dec. 8 Associated Press article, state laws meant to keep teens out of indoor tanning booths haven’t made a dent in the overall numbers using them, as researchers point to lax enforcement as a factor. Researchers have also found U.S. cases of melanoma are increasing while as many as one in three girls use indoor tanning.

Having laws that are in place to curb teenagers from using tanning salons is a good thing. Younger people, especially females, will fall to peer pressure and use the potential carcinogen as a way to feel cool. At that age, teenagers are prone to sacrificing their health in order to look good, and something needs to be done in order to prevent immature adolescents from making decisions that would cause them to have life-long health problems.

But with law enforcement having other priorities and consistently being hurt by budget cuts, it is unrealistic to expect them to be the ones enforcing these laws. When drunk drivers are on the streets, drug deals are occurring and gang violence could erupt, it is not the job of the police to make sure tanning
salons are not serving those under the age of 18. With that in mind, it would not be a bad idea to have these laws enforced through things such as health associations or government administrations that likely already inspect the salons because of the nature of their business.

Overall there needs to be a cultural change in order to bring a stop to using tanning salons. Awareness needs to be raised in order to show the negative ramifications of tanning during the developing years of teenagers. Insurance companies could help the cause by raising premiums for their clients who use tanning salons. By threatening to take their money, it would effectively decrease the amount of users and decrease the number of Americans who suffer from melanoma and a dependency on tanning.

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The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.
Spectator editorial: Tanning teens