A year after a New Jersey mom was arrested for her 5-year-old's alleged tanning booth sunburn, Gov. Chris Christie has signed a bill into law that bans children under the age of 17 from using commercial tanning facilities.
While Patricia Krentcil quickly became tabloid fodder after she was dubbed the "Tan Mom," a grand jury didn't indict the heavily-bronzed mom of four on endangering her child's welfare. But Christie said the new bill "followed a single but breathlessly reported incident of a parent bringing a minor child into a tanning facility." According to the New York Post, Krentcil was banned from more than 60 tanning salons in the tri-state area following last year's incident.
Here's how New Jersey's new law compares to other states' rules for teen tanning.
* Under the newly-minted New Jersey law, minors under 14 years of age are now prohibited from using spray-tanning facilities, while minors under 17 years of age are banned from using tanning beds. Minors that are 17 and older can use commercial tanning beds if a parent or guardian is present for an initial consultation.
* California and Vermont have the most restrictive teen tanning laws in the country; they are the only states that forbid the use of indoor tanning devices for all children under the age of 18. According toABC News, California's teen tanning law went into effect in 2012, and Gov. Jerry Brown and other California legislators were praised by the American Academy for helping to "reduce the future incidence of skin cancer by protecting youth from the dangers of indoor tanning."
* A 2012 map provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures shows the state-by-state guidelines for indoor tanning laws. Amazingly, 15 states have no known statewide restrictions on tanning for minors. According to an article in Pediatrics, a 2013 Washington University School of Medicine survey revealed that 65 percent of tanning salon operators in Missouri would allow kids as young as 10 or 12 to use their tanning beds.
* Ten states, including Oregon, Arizona, Georgia, and Ohio, require in-person parental permission for kids under the age of 18 to tan, while Wisconsin has a total commercial tanning ban for children under the age of 16.
* In a 2012 press release, the Indoor Tanning Association blasted the government for "taking away the right to make very basic parenting decisions" such as the decision to let a child tan. The statement cited New Jersey's laws on abortion without parental consent, as well as the fact that 16- or 17-year-old kids in the state "can drive cars, get married, own guns, hunt, and secure birth control… yet if these laws pass, they would not be allowed to suntan, even if their parents approved." The Tanning Association also predicted that banned teens will just go outside to tan with no adult supervision, where they will be much more likely to get sunburned.
Victoria Leigh Miller is a freelance writer. She has been writing about parenting topics since 2001.
- Politics & Government
- tanning beds
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