With the implementation of the United Kingdom's Sunbeds (Regulation) Act on April 8, children under 18 years of age are now banned from using ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices in Great Britain. Tanning salon staff who allow minors to tan could be liable for fines up to 20,000 pounds (about $33,000).
People who start tanning indoors before the age of 35 increase their risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75 percent. UV radiation is a proven human carcinogen, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an affiliate of the World Health Organization, includes UV tanning devices in its list of the most dangerous cancer-causing substances.
Each day more than two people under age 35 in Britain are diagnosed with melanoma, according to the non-profit Cancer Research UK. Additionally, melanoma rates have tripled among Britons ages 15-34 years in the past 30 years. UV tanning devices have become increasingly popular over the same period. In some areas of the UK, around 50 percent of 15-17-year-old girls have tanned indoors.
In the US, tanning is regulated by the states, some of which allow children as young as 14 to tan. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies UV-emitting tanning machines as Class I Medical Devices, meaning that it considers them to "present minimal potential for harm to the user." Last year, the General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel of the FDA's Medical Devices Advisory Committee unanimously recommended that the FDA upgrade its classification of tanning devices to better reflect the serious health risks tanning machines pose. The majority of the panel was also in favor of an age restriction to limit minors' access to UV tanning devices.
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