Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"But at least I know the risk I am taking"

One tends to get snippy when a privilege is taken away.  I recall back when I was a sophomore in college and West Virginia changed their legal drinking age from 18 to 21.  I was 19 at the time and was fortunate enough to ride a grandfather clause that allowed me to continue drinking (never heavily mind you, but socially).  Still, the freshmen behind me were banned.  Well, at least at public bars…not so much at private parties.  But I digress.  The point is, those younger than me were really peeved that they had to sneak around to drink.

There’s a lot of snippiness going around at high schools and colleges lately due to increased pressure to stop tanning.  For many kids, tanning for prom, spring break or a summer “base tan” is a rite of passage.  The thought that government might take away their “right” to tan is upsetting and downright socialist!  At least that’s what they think.

A recent blog commented that the male brain doesn’t reach maturity until the mid-twenties.  Anotherblog cited a book that mentions that the brain may not finish growing until after the teenage years.  What this means is that no matter the information piled upon teens, they just won’t comprehend the data unless they want to.  They will merely get snippy at being denied the “right” to tan and not understand the underlying reason for the ban.

Today I ran across an editorial…from an editor of a high school newspaper called the “The Sailor’s Log.”  The editorial piece was called, “To Tan Or Not To Tan: Editor ConsidersPre-Spring Break Options.”  Erinn Taylor openly admits that two weeks prior to her annual spring vacation to Florida, she visits a tanning booth three or four times per week.  She admits that this is probably not the smartest practice and goes on to quote various skin cancer facts:

“According to mayoclinic.com, being exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation (the type of light used in a tanning bed) is dangerous. It does not matter whether the rays come from a tanning bed or the natural sunlight.”

“According to health.harvard.edu, exposure to UV radiation is linked to skin cancer and premature aging.”

“According to livestrong.org, people who have used tanning beds before the age of 30 have increased their risk of melanoma by 75 percent.”

Erinn goes on to state that her mother had a basal cell carcinoma removed this past summer. 

“It looked like a scab, and the dermatologist cut it off, not a problem.”

Unfortunately her mother’s simple procedure to remove the BCC probably reinforced the classic “just cut it out” opinion that so many people have regarding skin cancer.  Still, her mother has now turned against tanning beds and is quite skeptical of Erinn’s use of indoor tanning.

The editorial goes on to state, “Simply looking at the facts, the decision seems obvious, but I have to look at my individual situation as well.”

Erinn decided to get her tan again before her Florida trip.  Her final comment?  “But at least I know the risk I am taking.”

No she doesn’t.  She THINKS she does…but she does not.  Despite the research she’s done and despite her mom’s insistence that she not tan, she’s going to go ahead and do it.    

This goes to support that there MUST be a ban enacted for those under 18.  Teens cannot comprehend the risk they’re truly taking.  Their parents are unable to stop them.  And like the freshmen back in my college days who found a way to get the beer they wanted, today’s teens will find a way past “parental consent” laws for tanning.

As stated by another, the only real way to stop people from tanning on a volunteer basis is to change the general public’s perception of what’s attractive.  This would not be an easy task.  Until then, ban the tanning beds.  Period.


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