Should teen tanning be banned? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Should teen tanning be banned?

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Valdosta - Tis' the season for tanning. "Lots of people are getting ready for their vacations," said Mary Thigpen, Tropics Tanning Salon Owner.

Tropics Tanning Salon has been packed with people, both young and old, in search of the perfect tan. But the World Health Organization wants tanning beds to be off limits for people under 18.

Dr. Sonya Merriman thinks its a good idea. "The children who go to the tanning bed under 18 are the ones who don't know what it can do, and they're the furtherest away from the effects of the sun," said Merriman.

The State of Georgia doesn't have an regulations on tanning, but some tanning salon owner like Thigpen have their own rules. Anyone under 18 who wants to tan at Tropics has to have a parent's signature before they can get into one of these beds. "They have to have the parent come in with them where we can see the parent and have them sign it," said Thigpen.

The World Health Organization estimates 132,000 cases of malignant melanoma worldwide each year. If teenagers weren't allowed in tanning beds, Dr. Merriman thinks the numbers would be much lower. "What you get during your younger years is what decides what's going to happen as far as skin cancers later in life," said Merriman.

But unfortunately, a lot of people don't realize that until its too late. "It takes years and years and years to see the effects of the sun or the tanning bed," said Merriman.

It's a warning that's hard to get across to adults, and even harder for teens who want an instant tan.

posted by ashley.harper@walb.com