A new law was signed into effect this past Monday by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie that bans children under the age of 17 from using tanning beds in a business setting, such as tanning studios. The concern of young children being subjected to potentially harmful UV rays from tanning beds arose when a local New Jersey mom was accused of allowing her young daughter to use commercial tanning beds.
Patricia Krentcil of Nutley, New Jersey, became tabloid fodder and was known as the ‘Tan Mom’ in 2012 when her then five-year-old daughter arrived at school sporting a serious sunburn. Krentcil admitted that she personally spent many hours either outdoors in the sun or in a tanning booth working on her tan, and officials accused her of exposing her young child to the intense UV lighting of tanning beds so her skin would develop a deep, dark tan just like hers. Based on the accusations and subsequent investigation, Krentcil was arrested for endangering the welfare of a child. She denied the accusations in court and a grand jury decided not to indict her on the charges.
New Jersey already had a law in place that prohibited children under the age of 14 from using tanning beds or booths in places of business due to the potential risk posed by frequent exposure to ultra-violet lights. The new law Governor Christie signed into effect this week extends the ban to include anyone under the age of 17. The new law also includes provisional usage of tanning beds for 17 year olds – they must have a parent or legal guardian present during the initial visit to a commercial tanning facility to ensure all potential risks, both present and future, are fully explained and understood by the 17 year old. It has been noted that the risk factor for developing melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, increases by 75% in those who tan regularly before age 35.
The new restrictions have been implemented to protect minor children, not to regulate the operations of small businesses in the state.