Regulating Minors’ Use of Tanning Beds

More than half of all states have laws on the books restricting minors’ use of tanning beds, although only 6 have outright bans. Parental permission and parental accompaniment requirements vary by state. CDC warns against children’s and teens’ use of tanning beds and sunlamps, which can lead to increased risk of melanoma.

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The risk of developing skin cancer is increased significantly by long-term exposure to ultraviolet rays, from both tanning beds and natural sunlight. A recent study by the World Health Organization revealed that the risk of developing melanoma is increased in those who began using tanning beds in their teens and 20s.1

  • Melanoma, the most deadly and serious form of skin cancer, is expected to cause 8,420 of the nearly 9,420 predicted deaths attributed to skin cancer in 2009.1
  • Despite this risk, 8.7 percent of youth ages 14 to 17 use indoor tanning devices.1
  • Girls in this age group are seven times more likely to use these devices than males.1

The CDC’s Healthy People 2010 plan for the U.S. includes objectives for avoiding artificial sources of ultraviolet exposure2, and the CDC Web site advises consumers to restrict the use of tanning beds and sunlamps to children and teens.3 Many states have passed laws restricting the use of tanning beds for minors.

  • Thirty-two states have enacted laws restricting access of minors to tanning facilities.
  • Of these 32 states, seen have enacted total bans, prohibiting minors under a certain age from using tanning facilities.
  • California, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey and New York prohibit minors under age 14 from using tanning facilities.
  • Wisconsin prohibits minors under age 16 and Texas prohibits minors under age 16.5 from using tanning facilities.

Along with prohibiting the general use of tanning beds by minors, other states have passed specific requirements for tanning bed use by minors and have placed strict regulations on tanning facilities.

  • North Carolina law prohibits anyone under age 13 from using tanning equipment at facilities without a written prescription from their physician explaining the nature of the condition requiring treatment.
  • In Delaware, New Hampshire and North Dakota, those under age 14 are prohibited from using tanning facilities unless they have a written medical order and/or are accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Fourteen states have laws restricting the use of tanning facilities by minors under a specific age unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. Twenty-four states have provisions prohibiting tanning bed use without written consent of a parent or guardian. Seventeen of these states require the consent statement to be signed at the facility and/or in the presence of the tanning facility supervisor.
  • Seventeen states require tanning facilities to post warning signs about tanning.

Twenty-one states have laws that address penalties for tanning facilities that violate the law, and 11 of these states have provisions that address the licensing of these facilities.

  • The federal Food and Drug Administration regulates sunlamps and tanners and is in the process of revising labeling requirements.


1 National Cancer Institute. “State Cancer Liegislative Database Fact Sheet: Skin Cancer.” States with Laws Addressing Minors’ Access to Tanning Facilities. June 2010.

2 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Healthy People 2010.” 2000.

3 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Cancer Prevention Starts in Childhood.”

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