A group of doctors and lawmakers want to regulate tanning salons -- hoping to discourage the 2.3 million teens who fake 'n' bake each year. "What happened to tobacco in the last 15 years is going to happen to the indoor tanning industry in the next 15," predicts tanning foe Dr. Robert Dellavalle of the University of Colorado. Tighter rules are needed, he says, because ultraviolet exposure during childhood can lead to skin cancer later.
Currently, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Texas have a tanning age limit; 16 states require parental consent; and New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Connecticut are debating tanning bills. At the federal level, the Food and Drug Administration has fairly mild rules governing the nation's 25,000 salons. Predictably, the Indoor Tanning Association is not taking this threat lying down. The group has recently spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" on lobbying, its website states. Meanwhile, some salons are buying "sunless" spray-on tanning booths as a hedge against a crackdown. Dellavalle, for one, is pleased. "If I were a teen," he says, "that's how I'd tan."