Tanning salons get ready to implement law

Staff writerApril 6, 2014 

Washington’s new state law prohibiting minors from using tanning beds won’t take effect for another two months, but local tanning salons already are taking steps to notify customers about it.

Laura George, owner of The Hot Spot in Puyallup, said her salon has posted a sign explaining the law. It is giving all customers younger than 18 a letter telling them about the new tanning restrictions.

Deb Haynie, who owns The Copper Zone salons in Olympia and Tumwater, said between her two locations she has five minors who have active prepaid accounts for tanning packages.

The salon has contacted those clients to let them know they must use the remainder of their tanning packages before the law goes into effect in June, Haynie said.

Both owners said they don’t expect the law to dramatically affect their businesses. They said their salons already check customer IDs and require parental consent for anyone younger than 18 to use a tanning bed.

“It will be an inconvenience more for my clientele,” Haynie said, adding that she’s already fielded some complaints from parents.

“I would say our clientele is upset that the government feels it can run their lives,” Haynie said. “Those are the comments we’ve been getting the most.”

Under the legislation, signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on March 27, users of tanning equipment will have to show a driver’s license or other form of government-issued identification with a birth date and photograph. Salons could be fined $250 for a violation.

The ban will let teens use tanning beds if they have a prescription from a doctor, but parents won’t be able to take their children indoor tanning just to get them bronzed for a vacation or for a school dance.

Unlike in past years, one national tanning organization — the American Suntanning Association — supported the legislation this year, after proposed fines were lowered from bills in previous years.

But a group representing tanning salons in Washington continued to oppose it.

Daniel Mann, board president of the Washington State Indoor Tanning Council, said he feels indoor tanning is generally safer than tanning outside because salons have attendants present to make sure people don’t overdo it.

Mann, who co-owns the Tropical Tan chain in Seattle, estimated that only about 2 to 5 percent of business at most tanning salons comes from people under 18.

The bigger issue with the new law is that it takes away parents’ rights to decide what’s best for their kids, Mann said.

“We’re basically going to force young people to go to the beach and tan,” Mann said.

He said his organization will work next year to persuade lawmakers to amend the tanning ban so it would apply only to people under 16.

Several other states have moved to ban indoor tanning for younger teens, but not for all minors.

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