Washington is currently one of eleven states that have no regulations on indoor tanning, but carte blanche baking may soon come to an end. Two bills introduced in Olympia—House Bill 1363 and Senate Bill 5593—seek to put barriers between Washingtonians and that all natural, sun-scorched look.
If passed, the legislation would impose age restrictions (over 18 in the house bill, over 16 in the senate), staff training to identify at-risk skin types, stipulate that warning signs are made easily visible, and new cleanliness and safety standards on the tanning industry. Tanning salons would also need a $500 annual license to be able to operate in the state.
Shockingly, tanning overlords oppose the legislation.
John Overstreet, Executive Director of the Indoor Tanning Association, says that the salons already self-regulate—they don’t want to burn their customers. “People tan to achieve a certain look,” Overstreet says—and burnt isn't the look most people are going for. The look most people are going for is called "healthy."
Overstreet also says that what people are calling “skin cancer” are actually benign lesions (which sounds much sexier, doesn't it?). He says there is no credible link between indoor tanning and skin cancer, but there is a strong link between skin burning and skin cancer. Therefore, when tanning under the guidance of an indoor tanning professional, there is less risk of burning than when basting outside the traditional way. Overstreet basically argues that indoor tanning is a healthy alternative to being outside.
There are 54 indoor tanning facilities in Seattle (compared to only 26 McDonalds), according to data from the advocacy organization Controlling Indoor Tanning in Youth (CITY). It seems a mix-use condo building can’t go up in this town without a tanning salon moving into the ground floor (right next to a Quizno’s).
It remains to be seen if tighter regulations will curb people's enthusiasm for a "healthy" tan, benign skin lesions and all.