A tanning bed ban for minors has been signed into law by New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
The new legislation, which bans anyone under 17 from using a tanning bed and anyone under 14 from getting a spray tan, was inspired by tabloid sensation and human catcher’s mitt Patricia Krencil, also known as “Tanning Mom.”
Krencil was accused of taking her five-year-old daughter into a tanning booth last year and charged with child endangerment. However, a grand jury declined to indict her in February.
The new tanning bed ban signed by Christie on Monday night will permit 17-year-olds to use tanning salons, but only if a parent or guardian accompanies them to their first visit and consents.
In a statement, Christie said he does not advocate government regulation of small business, but cited “documented and well-understood” health risks as the reason for the bill. He also confirmed that Krentcil’s case was a factor:
“Governmental regulation of the private sector should always be carefully scrutinized, and sparingly adopted. The new restrictions imposed by this bill followed a single but breathlessly reported incident of a parent bringing a minor child into a tanning facility.”
Christie added that tanning before the age of 35 has been proven to increase the risk of skin cancer in later life by 75 percent. That claim is backed up by the FDA, which warns the skin acts in self-defense when exposed to UV rays from the sun or from a tanning bed, producing more melanin, a pigment that darkens the skin. The FDA says:
“Although some people think that a tan gives them a ‘healthy’ glow, any tan is a sign of skin damage […] Over time, this damage will lead to prematurely aged skin and, in some cases, skin cancer.”
Not everybody is happy with the tanning bed ban. In a statement, the American Suntanning Association said it was, “disappointed that Gov. Christie and the New Jersey legislature have decided that government should have more of a say in teenagers’ lives than their parents,” and that it has “worked diligently to offer a compromise including stricter regulations, more enforcement and fines and greater parental control.”
What do you make of New Jersey’s tanning bed ban?