State Legislature crafts new tanning law

For some, tanning is an important part of their lifestyle as well as a piece of modern culture. However, a recently proposed bill in Washington State would ban the use of tanning beds for any individual under the age of 18.

Two identical bills are moving through the House (HB 2550) and Senate (SB 6249) both proposing placing an 18 or older age limit on tanning bed use. Both bills have passed an initial hearing but further action will not be taken until an agreement can be reached on one version of the bill by the Rules Committee.

This law would prohibit junior Ally Crouch from tanning, who sees it as having many everyday uses.

“I am naturally really pale and if you go tanning you get tan so that is always nice. [I also tan] for dances and now that I do cheer it is nice to be tan because I have to wear a skirt in the middle of winter,” Crouch said. “Also, I know a lot of people go tanning because it can clear up your skin and dermatologists recommend a little bit of it considering we live in Washington and we do not really see the sun very much.”

For others, tanning may serve as preparation for warmer climates or even have health benefits.

Linda Bushey, an owner of Bare Necessities Tanning Salon & Day Spa explains.

“[A reason a lot of my clients tan] is that they want to build up a base tan to go somewhere that is hot for vacation,” Bushey said. “We do have people who are recommended by physicians for health reasons: it might be fibromyalgia or eczema or things like that.”

But tanning is not all sunshine, all the time. Tanning can lead to serious and even fatal health issues.

Health teacher Susan Krippaehne has dealt with skin cancer first-hand as a result of tanning in her youth.

“Definitely [I think the widespread use of tanning is an issue], because of the risk of skin cancer and there is definitely a risk. I have had skin cancer and I thought I was the person who would never get skin cancer so I did plenty of tanning in my day but not in a tanning bed; I did the real thing,” Krippaehne said. “I have learned that tanning beds are as bad, if not worse, than the real sun because [their] rays are so much more intense. So that is my concern: people getting skin cancer at a young age.”

Concerning the proposed legislature; however, Crouch questions the relevance of the ban.

“I think it is kind of dumb [to ban minors from tanning] because if you have a parent that is allowing you to go tanning then why not?” Crouch said.

Krippaehne does not find issue with the law, citing parenthood as the reason for her opinion.

“I think [the law] is reasonable; however, I am a mom so I would think that. I would hope it might cut down on the number of young girls who are tanning because they are ruining their beautiful skin; it is going to get old looking and wrinkled,” Krippaehne said. “I think if they have to wait legally until they are older they might think about it more and make a better choice.”

Senior Madison Near suggests an alternative solution.

“I like the [idea of requiring an age of] 16 with parent permission because since I have been tanning since I was 16 the damage has already been done,” Near said. “So it seems stupid to change it… once I turn 18, I am going to continue tanning.”

According to Bushey, most of her customers are well above the age of 18 but they still enforce their own restrictions.

“My clientele is more in their mid 20s to 70s, I have a more mature group,” Bushey said. “We do require parent signature for 17 and younger.”

The bill has not passed yet but if it does pass, Crouch says she has other options.

“If I could not bed tan then I would probably do spray tans but… the world would not end, we would just be really pale,” Crouch said.

Regardless of age, tanning can pose serious risks.

“Once you have skin cancer you have a little bit different outlook on [tanning]. It is like, ‘Oh, if I can get skin cancer, then anyone can get skin cancer,’” Krippaehne said. “You have one body, so keep it healthy and good and cancer-free.”