CHICAGO — —
"The younger you are the more time you have then to develop that cancer," Knox said. "There's still a huge myth that people think a tan is healthy."
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization say natural and artificial ultraviolet radiation are cancer-causing substances, and in May the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a proposed order for stricter regulations on indoor tanning devices. The American Academy of Dermatology says minors shouldn't use indoor tanning equipment because overexposure to ultraviolet radiation can lead to skin cancer.
The new law bans teens from using equipment that emits ultraviolet radiation, including sun lamps and tanning booths. They also cannot use tanning beds that emit certain electromagnetic radiation wavelengths. The bill doesn't apply to devices used in private residences, phototherapy devices used by physicians or spray tans.
Some tanning industry officials say the focus of government intervention should be on teaching moderation and that it's unfair to blame salons for overexposure that might lead to cancer, warning that a teen tanning ban would damage business.
Nick Patel, CEO of Lincolnshire-based L.A. Tan, which has about 65 salons in Illinois, said he has closed a number of locations over the last 18 months and that the new law could mean more lost jobs. Patel said his employees are trained to coach customers to tan wisely.
"People just need to be educated more than anything else," he says.
The Indoor Tanning Association, which represents thousands of salon operators, contests the links between tanning and cancer.
"Proponents of these laws always exaggerate the risks of exposure to ultraviolet light in order to get the attention of the public, the media and the government," the ITA said in a May 2012 statement. The group supports parental or guardian consent for those under age 18 who want to tan.