Huffpost Parents

Tanning Salons And Underage Teens: What Are The Laws? And Who's Bending The Rules? (VIDEO)

Posted: Updated:

Thirty-three states currently have age restrictions when it comes to minors using tanning beds. But how hard is it for underage teens to sneak into these establishments?

Not very, according to a recent investigation by NBC's Jeff Rossen and Robert Powell.

The team sent an young staffer posing as a 15-year-old into six salons in the New Jersey area to see whether management would allow her to tan. Although the state mandates persons between 14 and 17 years old to be accompanied by a parent for written consent, three of the salons granted her access to their facilities.

Last year, a local sector of the American Cancer Society conducted a similar investigation at 16 tanning salons in the New York area, WGRZ reported at the time. Unlike NBC's experiment, underage teens were turned away from the establishments 75 percent of the time.

Researchers in the United Kingdom have also reported somewhat lax standards when it comes to asking potential tanning clients for proof of their age, according to the BBC. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) found that 32 percent of tanning salons in 12 local authority areas didn't check a customers' ages before granting them access to tanning facilities.

Lately, officials in the U.S. have been trying to discourage young adults from tanning in order to help reduce incidents of melanoma, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The International Agency for Research On Cancer has also encouraged lawmakers to take action against underage or excessive tanning.

A study conducted by Harvard Medical School suggests that women who used tanning beds before age 35 were more likely to develop forms of skin cancer than non-users, according to a Reuters report. Frequency of use often correlated with an increased risk of cancer.

Nevertheless, a Slate article explores several factors that might play into customers' decisions to frequent these establishments, including needing to "look good" or falling victim to the industry's way of downplaying potential risks.

As of January 2012, California became the first state to successfully prohibit minors under 18 from using UV indoor tanning beds. Vermont passed a similar law that will go into effect on July 1.

And now, New Jersey lawmakers are working to follow in those states' footsteps and raise the legal age for using tanning beds to 18. State law currently bars children under 14 years old from using the facilities.

Lobbyists inched closer to putting the plan into action, when a legislative panel voted in support of the measure on May 14, CBS News reports. The plan will now move on to the full Assembly.

Visit the National Conference of State Legislatures for a state-by-state comparison of indoor tanning restrictions.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the experiment conducted by the American Cancer Society took place in New Jersey. The investigation took place in New York.

Around the Web

NJ Assembly panel approves ban on underage tanning - CBS News

Are tanning salons admitting underage teens?

NJ Assembly panel approves ban on underage tanning

NJ Assembly panel to consider underage tanning ban

Many tanning salons not checking ages, says charity

Mother accused of letting 5-year-old daughter use tanning bed