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April 7, 2015

Tanning Establishments Show Drastic Improvement in Regulation Compliance

Pam Davenport - Email

Nicholas Rupp - Email

The improvement comes after a 2-year SLCoHD educational campaign targeted at tanning facility owners and management. The campaign reminded tanning facilities that state law requires minors to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian each time the minor wants to tan.

The health department focused its efforts on the parental consent component, in part, because of a 2011 University of Utah School of Medicine study that found only 27% of Utah tanning establishments required minors to obtain parental consent before tanning.

Earlier this year, SLCoHD conducted undercover compliance checks to determine the effectiveness of its educational campaign. The department sent minors to attempt to tan without a parent present, and this time found that 83% of tanning facilities were following the law and turned away the unaccompanied minor.

“We’re very happy that our educational efforts have made a difference,” said Jorge Mendez, environmental health scientist for SLCoHD, “but we still had 17% of tanning establishments that illegally allowed an unaccompanied minor to purchase tanning, and we’d like that number to be zero.”

Health officials say that it’s also up to parents to teach their teens about the ramifications of tanning, and to help them make healthier choices as they enter adulthood.

“The parental consent law exists so parents can be informed about the choices their children make,” said Terri Sory, chronic disease prevention manager for SLCoHD. “Parents need to understand that if they choose to sign a tanning permission form for their teen, they’re also choosing the long-term health effects associated with tanning, including a greatly increased risk of life-threatening skin cancer in adulthood.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Utah—with a rate of 22.5– 33.5 per 100,000 people—has one of the highest rates of melanoma (the most dangerous type of skin cancer) in the country.