PLATTSBURGH — A new state law will soon prohibit teenagers younger than 17 from using indoor tanning beds.
The legislation, signed into law earlier this month by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, is designed to protect teens from dangerous exposure to UV radiation by limiting their access to indoor tanning facilities.
“I couldn’t be more pleased,” said John Kanoza, director of the Clinton County Health Department’s Environmental Division.”It’s a great law.”
Previously, children age 14 to 18 were required to present the signature of a parent or legal guardian to access indoor tanning facilities. Children under 14 were prohibited.
As of Aug. 15, no one younger than 17 will be allowed to tan at such facilities, and those who are 17 must obtain parental consent.
“I’m a big advocate of getting a little sun,” Kanoza said. “But if you’re under 17, the damage that occurs from too much tanning can come back to haunt you the rest of your life.
“I’m impressed with how quickly the state moved on this,” he continued. “It’s an important issue, and they moved forward on it quickly.”
The Health Department oversees regulation of 21 tanning spas across the county, including the use of proper signage; safe, clean equipment; and documentation of people using the facilities.
Kanoza’s department is sending letters to local businesses, advising them of the new legislation.
Grace Gregg, who co-owns Leisure Tan on Oak Street in downtown Plattsburgh with her husband, Jerry, supports the stricter requirements.
“I am glad it has passed and teens can no longer tan,” she said. “Tanning does damage the skin of people under a certain age; it’s a law that is for their protection, their safety.”
Mrs. Gregg said she believes it is important that children protect their skin with sunblock while outdoors, and she does not think extra tanning indoors is beneficial for young people.
“Why submit yourself to even more?” she said.
Leisure Tan has been located on Oak Street for two decades, and the Greggs have owned it for the last seven years.
“It’s a very clean facility, a wonderful facility,” she said with pride. “We have always been respectful to the customer but have always emphasized safety.”
Mrs. Gregg said she can recall only two teens who have used her facility over the past several years, and they both had parental consent. She said the new regulations will not impact her business.
She does suggest that teens who want a tanned look into spray tanning, which she also offers at Leisure Tan. The artificial tan lasts about a week and does not pose any health risks to those who use it.
Cheryl Zedick, owner of Cut Loose with Mrs. Z on Margaret Street in Plattsburgh, does not like the new regulation.
“I feel like the government is trying to control everything,” she said. “People have a choice; parents are responsible for the safety of their children, and they do a good job, for the most part.
“We are regulated enough,” she added. “We, as responsible owners of tanning spas, ensure that our customers are safe.”
She doesn’t think the new law will prevent young people who want to tan from doing so.
“If someone wants, they can go out on the Internet and purchase a tanning bed. At least if they use a tanning spa, there is someone there to control the timer and make sure they are using the facility properly.”
Zedick, who has been in the salon business for more than 20 years and has owned Cut Loose for more than a decade, said she does not see many teenage tanners at her spa, except during prom season, when girls want a tan for the big event.
Tanning is caused by the ultraviolet rays of the sun or an artificial source. Natural sunlight contains a mixture of UVA and UVB rays, while indoor tanning beds typically concentrate on the UVA rays, which require a higher level of exposure to cause the skin to burn.
Overexposure to ultraviolet rays can lead to premature aging of the skin and skin cancer, including malignant melanoma.
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