Gov. Corbett right to sign tanning law into place

Published May 14, 2014 at 6:37 am (Updated May 13, 2014 at 9:58 am)

’Tis the season for bronzed skin. Prom, graduation, vacation, et cetera, et cetera, are all excuses to darken up in an attempt for men and women, young and old alike to look their best. But, thanks to a new law signed by Governor Tom Corbett last week, those under 17 will not be permitted to use tanning beds, and those who are 17 will be required to obtain parental consent. In addition, everyone, regardless of age, will be required to sign a warning statement before stepping foot into the cancer, er, tanning bed. Tanning salons will be required to keep records of users for three years, and tanning salon employees must be trained on the use of tanning beds and customer skin types.

The law will go into effect in 60 days, and Pennsylvania joins a number of other states placing bans on underage tanning.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Skin Cancer Foundation, say that melanoma is the third most-common cancer in the 15-39 age group, and it is responsible for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths. In addition, the American Academy cites a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, for those who get their tan from a tanning bed. And, the risk rises with each session.

And, while a tan might look good now, the effects of the UVA and UVB rays will set in and announce themselves in the form of premature aging as time goes on.

Sure, Gov. Corbett cannot stop anyone from catching rays outdoors, but the law is certainly a step in the right direction in raising awareness of the dangers of tanning. In this day and age, a plethora of lotions, potions, sprays and even wipes are available in a variety of shades to achieve the same desired effect of tanning beds, without increasing the risk of melanoma, and for a fraction of the cost. Gone are the days of a faux tan dying skin orange – today’s self tanners look like the real thing.

To the businesses crying that they will not survive due to the law, we suggest getting a spray-tanning machine or two. Optimally, they would forgo the tanning beds all together and replace each one with a spray tan machine.

But perhaps the message needs to go a little bit deeper – we should be teaching our children that they don’t need to be tan to be beautiful. After all, pale and alive trumps tan and dead any day.

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