NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Bronze Age

September 15, 2003

Nearly one-third of teenage females use tanning booths and youths in general who engage in the practice are more likely to participate in other risky health behaviors such as drinking and smoking, according to a new study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Researchers who examined the association between indoor tanning and certain lifestyle factors found that:

  • Some 28.1 percent of female and 6.9 percent of male non-Hispanic white adolescents age 13 to 19 have used a tanning booth three or more times, putting them into the category of indoor tanning users.
  • Of those users, 63.9 percent of females and 64.1 percent of males report using at least two of the following substances: tobacco, alcohol or marijuana.
  • Indoor tanners also tended to live in the Midwest or South, attend a rural high school and were more likely to engage in appearance-related activities such as dieting.
  • The odds of tanning decreased among teens with a college-educated mother and greater cognitive skills as determined in a short test and participation in routine physical activity, specifically among females.

During tanning indoors, dangerously high levels of ultraviolet radiation can lead to premature aging as well as a heightened risk of skin cancer. The American Cancer Society expects there to be about 9,800 deaths from skin cancer this year.

The journal's editors proposed a youth UV indoor tanning tax of $20 to deal with the prevalence of teenage tanning. Likening teenage tanners to smokers, they said the tax would discourage adolescents from going under the lamp and encourage the development of non-UV tanning treatments.

Source: Jennifer Saranow, "Tanning Booths Attract Teen Girls: New Study Finds Youths Who Engage in Activity Are Likely to Smoke or Drink," Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2003.

For text (WSJ subscription required),,SB106306320996136600,00.html


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