Finally! High School Tanning Drops

After a steady rise for decades in tanning among young people, the latest research shows that fewer US high school students are using indoor tanning beds. A 2015 study published in JAMA Dermatology, which analyzed data from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, found that in 2013, 20% of high school girls visited tanning venues, compared to 25% in 2009. Use among high school boys dropped from 7% in 2009 to 5% in 2013.1

This promising trend, at least partly due to increased public awareness of the dangers of tanning, may be reinforced by recent developments: In 2014, the FDA issued an order that all sunlamp products include a black box label warning minors under age 18 not to use them; and since 2012, when only California and Vermont had tanning bed bans for minors under 18, a wave of new states have passed similar legislation. Currently, 12 states plus the District of Columbia have tanning bed bans for minors under 18.

Despite these gains, tanning beds, a known human carcinogen, are still being used widely by young people. An estimated 1.5 million high school girls and 0.4 million high school boys use indoor tanning each year. In addition, the number of white female high school students who are frequent tanners (10 or more times in a year) remained constant (around 16 percent) from 2011 to 2013, indicating that prevention efforts need to be targeted more strongly to this group.2

Published on July 2, 2015


  1. Guy GP Jr, Berkowitz Z, Everett Jones S, et al. Trends in indoor tanning among US high school students, 2009-2013. JAMA Dermatol 2015; 151(4):448-450.
  2. Guy GP, Jr, Berkowitz Z, Watson M, Holman DM, Richardson LC. Indoor tanning among young nonhispanic white females. JAMA Intern Med 2013; 173(20):1920-1922.