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MONDAY, Aug. 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- New Jersey's ban on the use of indoor tanning salons by children and teens appears to have had little effect, a new study finds.
The ban, which applies to anyone under age 17, took effect in 2013. Researchers at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Rutgers School of Public Health compared rates of indoor tanning among thousands of students in grades 9 through 12 in 2012 and 2014.
The investigators found that 6.7 percent of students had tanned indoors in 2012, compared to 6.9 percent in 2014. Among students of all ages, rates of indoor tanning showed little change among girls, but rose from 5.8 percent to 8.6 among boys.
People who get indoor tans are at increased risk for skin cancer, especially if they start at a young age, the study authors noted.
"The fact that indoor tanning rates among New Jersey high school students under age 17 did not significantly decline after an age restriction was enacted is cause for concern and speaks to the need for ongoing surveillance of indoor tanning rates for this population," study author Elliot Coups said in a Rutgers news release. Coups is a behavioral scientist at Rutgers Cancer Institute and associate professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
"These results also highlight a need for continued monitoring of tanning facility operators to ensure they are adhering to the age restrictions put in place," Coups added.
In addition, the increase in tanning by high school boys during the study period underscores the need for targeted public health programs, he suggested.
The researchers noted that New Jersey has no age restriction on use of indoor tanning devices in private homes, but said lawmakers should consider one.
The study was published in the August issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
-- Robert Preidt
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