Lions and Tigers and Tanning Beds, Oh My!

I surprised me when I found out that a bill requiring parents to visit the tanning salon with their children was actually being proposed in this year's Utah legislature. Imagine my wonderment that Senate Bill 52 has now actually passed the legislature and is waiting for the governor's signature.

If there is anyone who has any inside information on why parents should have to give consent for their children to visit a tanning salon, please let me know. It's almost like it's common knowledge that such should be the case, because I didn't hear much of a ruckus about it in the newspapers. Actually I heard mostly support.

There are quite a few regulations already regarding tanning: you can tan a maximum of 20 minutes per session (25 in what are known as RUVA beds) and you can tan only once in any 24-hour period. I've seen it enforced in the tanning salon I used to attend, when people were told to come back in two hours, because it hadn't been 24 yet. Every booth I've ever been in warns people galore about the dangers of tanning. So I think people are smart enough to make their own decisions.

It must be more serious than I think, because the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Dermatology, and the Salt Lake Tribune would like to ban tanning salons outright. The Trib even goes so far as to chide those of us who think people can take care of themselves, because we think that "regulation to protect public health is suspected of being some kind of commie plot."

Please. We just think that people are smarter than the 'commie' Trib editorial board (their word, not mine) gives them credit for. There are those who think you can legislate morality (I happen to be one of them.) And then there are those that think that you can't legislate morality, but that you must legislate public health.

It's a mentality difference of prohibiting people from harming others versus prohibiting them from harming themselves.

Why don't we ban candy and soda pop? And buttered popcorn? And smoking? Excessive amounts of those not only lead to cancer, but to tooth decay as well! That might actually be why some areas of Utah force fluoridation into the water supply, because they really want to ban candy, but doing so might be perceived to be a commie plot.

Hopefully no one in the legislature voted for Senate Bill 52 on the grounds that it promotes family togetherness.

Do we not expect teenagers to find out and understand the dangers of such things as tanning? This potential law is another indication that apparently we don't expect teenagers to be mature. To me such a low expectation is a far worse societal problem than skin cancer.


  1. I didn't give this enough attention myself. I picked some bigger battles to fight.

    I wrote about it back in January here. It's based on a Davis County regulation that requires parental consent.

  2. It seems like Davis County is in the vanguard of protecting us from ourselves. Weren't they the first to do fluoride?

  3. Please note that there are some medical professionals that disagree with the dangers of tanning. They believe that the long-term health consequenses of getting inadequate sunlight lead to far more serious problems than the skin cancers that overexposure can cause. The establishment hates these guys, but they've got data to back them up.

    I'm not saying these guys are right, but if it turns out that they are, we will have legislated something that could lead to more problems than it solves. Isn't that just normal for this type of legislative meddling?

    Still, as a parent, I'd like to know if my kid is tanning and is spending money to do it. Just like I'd like to know if my kid was joining a school club. Or having an abortion. Whoops! That one is somehow OK with the protect-us-from-ourselves gang. Go figure.

  4. That's a very interesting point. In my case, sunlight--and tanning--definitely help me keep my psoriasis under control, but it's also good to know that professional opinion supports my self-observation.

    This whole thing kind of reminds me of the global warming debate.

    And when something like this gets put into law, it's hard to get rid of, and it's always hard to get someone to admit they made a mistake after the fact.

    Another good point is that we should want to know if our children are tanning (but that government doesn't need to help us there). Touche' on the abortion point! Abortion falls into the protect-us-from-others (the fetus) 'bucket' so they think we shouldn't require notification for that.

  5. Frank, I'm surprised you're equating tanning salons and global warming...tanning hurts the few individuals who choose to engage in it, whereas global warming threatens to destroy the planet...

  6. Sorry Elizabeth. I should have been more clear. The relationship I meant to draw is that with Global Warming as with any other issue, overreaction and overlegislation can be a greater problem that the 'disease'.

  7. One sentence tanning beds and children do not go together!


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