A New State-Banned Activity

This past weekend, the State of California passed legislation banning minors from using tanning beds. This law will take effect on January 1, 2012. This is the most restrictive law on the use of indoor tanning beds in the United States (other states have some restrictions on the use, but no outright ban). Law-makers cite health concerns associated with this activity to justify the legislation.

Prior to this law, minors between the ages of 14 and 17 had to get parental consent before being able to use tanning beds, with the activity prohibited for those under the age of 14.

While health associations praise this legislation, those representing the interests of tanning salons explain that this law will hurt businesses, leading to job cuts.

While this news may seem insignificant to some, I certainly find it interesting from a state intervention perspective. Should the state be passing such laws? At what age is a person old enough to decide if this is an activity he or she wants to participate in? Is this law enough to actually end the practice among minors? See here for a Slaw posting from last year raising similar concerns. State and provincial laws ban the sale of alcohol and tobacco to minors, yet it is no secret that many under the age of 18 partake in such activities. In some ways, the tanning debate has larger social implications, when this activity may lead to serious health problems (this is concern is especially true in Canada where medicare (and ultimately taxpayers) would be responsible for paying for these treatments). I guess there is always the sun to turn to…

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