California’s landmark 2011 legislation that bans minors from using indoor tanning salons appears to be working to restrict access, but salons are still providing false information about the harmful effects of tanning, according to new research.

A study investigator claiming to be 17 years old called a statewide random sampling of more than 300 tanning facilities in May 2013. The majority – about 77 percent – of the salons told the underage caller she could not use the ultraviolet tanning booths.

But more than 60 percent of the salons contacted denied any danger from the ultraviolet exposure from tanning and made unlawful claims of specific health benefits. For example, 44 percent said tanning helped vitamin D production and 17 percent said it could prevent future sunburns.

California became the first state in the nation to ban indoor tanning to anyone younger than 18. Previously, state law permitted teenagers between 14 and 17 years old to use the beds if they had parental consent. The underage prohibition went into effect Jan. 1, 2012.

The study, which involved researchers from UCSF and other institutions, noted additional enforcement may be needed to prevent salons from spreading inaccurate information about the health risks and unproven benefits.

The study was published online last week in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.


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