Background: A recent meta-analysis found that indoor tanning use before the age of 35 years increases the risk of melanoma, supporting policies to restrict indoor tanning use among adolescents. The objectives of the current study were to provide a national assessment of prevalence and trends of indoor tanning use among US adolescents, to examine changes in the prevalence of indoor tanning use from 1998 to 2004 in relation to state policies on minors' access, and to assess the prevalence of burns, rashes, and infections among users.
Methods: Two cross-sectional population-based surveys of US youths ages 11 to 18 years and their parents/guardians conducted in 1998 (N=1196) and 2004 (N=1613) used identical questions to assess use of indoor tanning and correlates of this behavior.
Results: The prevalence of indoor tanning use by adolescents within the past year changed little from 1998 to 2004 (10% to 11%). In states with policies regarding minors' access to indoor tanning, the prevalence stayed the same or decreased from 1998 to 2004, whereas it increased in states without such policies. Neither trend was found to be statistically significant. Youth tanning attitudes, parental indoor tanning use, and parents' permission were strongly associated with youth use of indoor tanning. Fifty-eight percent of users reported burns from indoor tanning.
Conclusions: The presence of state legislation restricting minors' access to indoor tanning appears to have limited effectiveness, perhaps because most states' policies permit use with parental consent. Multipronged approaches are needed to reduce indoor tanning use in youths.