Monday, May 30, 2011

Doctor-Prescribed Tanning Sessions?

No SmokingThree North Carolina state senators are proposing a bill in the State Legislature which would require those under 18 to have a doctor’s prescription to use tanning beds.
Okay, I admit I support a ban on tanning beds for minors (more on that later), but why do so under the guise of a prescription-only policy?  There may indeed be a need to have someone prescribed some type of UV radiation, but shouldn’t anything “prescribed” be done so by a licensed radiologist and not by a corner tanning salon?  Why don’t they just simply propose a ban of commercial tanning beds for minors?  Do they think that such wording is too harsh and would be met with too much political criticism?
One article I read was opposed to such legislature as well as to outright bans.  They argued that the government acts as a nanny far too much…restricting the use of alcohol, smoking and some over-the-counter drugs.  I find this to be a very interesting argument.  Is this person proposing that we lift the drinking age and smoking age restrictions? 
As for smoking, this probably mirrors the current melanoma struggles since there were anti-smoking campaigns for years before tobacco use started to decline.  But you know what?  Skin cancer outnumbers lung cancer…and for young adults, even melanoma outnumbers lung cancer.  The campaign to restrict access to smoking and incur age limits helped to reduce the occurrence of lung cancer.  Why can’t we have the same battle regarding melanoma?  This is the NUMBER ONE cancer for young adults.  What’s the reason for the resistance?  Vanity!  Remember the Virginia Slim commercials announcing that women had as much a right to smoke as men?  Remember the rugged Marlboro Man?  Remember how smoking promised to make one look cooler?  Remember how high the rate of lung cancer was?  All this changed (although not enough) because society finally realized that’s smoking is NOT cool and it causes cancer and all sorts of other health problems.
Guess what?  So does UV radiation.  And a tanning bed provides concentrated doses of such radiation.  Imagine if your teenage daughter wanted to smoke and she develops a moderate habit of smoking.  Let’s equate this to tanning in the sun.  You tell her to apply sunscreen, but vanity dictates she try to get a good looking tan, despite the burns and the warnings, so she continues to lay in the sun unprotected.  Now let’s say she wants to go to a tanning bed and get a concentrated dose of UV rays.  Tanning beds provide as much as 15 times the radiation as the sun.  Let’s go back to the smoking analogy.  Let’s stick a helmet over your daughter’s head and pump fifteen cigarette’s worth of smoke in there at one time.  Would you allow it?
I’m not sure whether smoking is illegal for those who are underage, but I know that there are restrictions for selling tobacco products to minors.  The same should be enacted for tanning beds.  It’s not illegal to get a tan…simply do so the old fashioned way by using the sun.  It’s legal…stupid but legal.  But selling tans to minors via tanning beds and tanning booths should be illegal.  And it shouldn’t be disguised under a prescription-only policy.

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