Tanning Salon Compliance Rates in States With Legislation to Protect Youth Access to UV Tanning

JAMA Dermatol. 2018 Jan 1;154(1):67-72. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.3736.


Importance: The US Food and Drug Administration has classified tanning beds as carcinogenic. Most states have enacted legislation to prevent or create barriers for minors accessing tanning establishments. Determining tanning salon compliance with legislation would provide an indication of the influence of legislation at preventing exposure to the carcinogen in minors.

Objectives: To investigate compliance rates in the 42 states and the District of Columbia with legislation restricting tanning bed use in minors and to identify differences in compliance based on population, regional location, salon ownership, age group being regulated, and time since the law was enacted.

Design, setting, and participants: This investigation was a cross-sectional telephone survey conducted between February 1, 2015, and April 30, 2016, by callers posing as minors attempting to schedule a tanning appointment. The setting was tanning salons in the 42 states and the District of Columbia that currently have legislation restricting tanning bed use in minors. Included in the study were 427 tanning salons, 10 randomly selected from each state or territory with tanning legislation.

Main outcomes and measures: Overall compliance of tanning salons with state tanning legislation and differences in compliance based on community population, regional location, independent vs chain tanning salon, age group being regulated, and time since the law was enacted.

Results: Of the 427 tanning salons surveyed, overall noncompliance with state legislation was 37.2% (n = 159). There were more noncompliant tanning salons in rural locations (45.5%; 95% CI, 37.5%-53.7%; P = .009), southern regions of the United States (49.4%; 95% CI, 41.4%-57.4%; P = .001), independently owned salons (43.9%; 95% CI, 37.3%-50.6%; P = .003), states with younger age groups being regulated (53.5%; 95% CI, 45.7%-61.2%; P < .001), and states with more than one tanning regulation (50.0%; 95% CI, 42.0%-58.0%; P < .001). No difference was found based on time since the law was enacted.

Conclusions and relevance: Compliance with state legislation aimed at limiting tanning bed use among US minors is unsatisfactory, indicating that additional efforts to enforce the laws and education of the harmful effects of UV tanning are necessary, especially in rural, independently owned, and tanning salons in southern regions, which have decreased compliance rates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Beauty Culture / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Sunbathing / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*
  • United States
  • Young Adult