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New Jersey lawmakers tighten tanning restrictions for minors

New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill last week requiring anyone 15 years of age or younger to have parental supervision in order to use a tanning salon. The bill is intended to help improve informed consent for minors that choose to use tanning salons.

Tanning is popular among many in New Jersey but holds significant health risks. The law imposes significant fines for tanning salons that do not comply with the law’s extensive requirements for record keeping and oversight of all clients under 18-years-old. It may also open the door for personal injury actions by kids who are injured by noncomplying tanning salons.

Tanning salon injuries could range from burns or discoloration to skin cancer and all would have a significant long term impact on a teenager’s health.

Local tanning salon owners worry that the requirements will hurt their business, but the legislature is prioritizing the safety of teen tanning salon customers above those concerns.

The new rules raise questions about how responsible a tanning salon is for the possible damage to someone’s skin as a result of use of their services. Kids may not appreciate the risk inherent in tanning or may think that using the services sparsely will not have an effect on their long term health. The new law indicates that it is up to the tanning salons to provide the additional safety measures for teen customers.

One advocate for a more restrictive version of the bill said that many teens view tanning as a treatment option for acne or psoriasis, which can be stressful and difficult skin conditions to deal with as a teen. However, she pointed out that while those conditions are uncomfortable and embarrassing, acne does not pose a risk of death, whereas skin cancer does.

Source: New Jersey Star-Ledger, “N.J. Senate committee approves tanning on teens 15 and under” Susan K. Livo, June 18, 2012.

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