Oompa Loompas are probably the best part of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but it's a fair guess that the 15-year-olds you've seen walking down the streets don't realize or particularly want to look the same striking shade of tanning bed orange as those little guys. Now the state legislature has stepped in to stop the orange madness.
Tanning beds have been around for a while. The technology behind the tanning bed was invented around 1900 by a German medical company as a way to help people better absorb calcium by sitting under Vitamin D lamps.
But then in the 1920s Coco Chanel made having a tan almost as trendy as the little black dress (which is also a thing we totally have Chanel for) and suddenly where it used to be a sign of super-sophistication to stay out of the sun, now you weren't cool unless you had a tan.
It was also found that tanning could also clear up skin people and put people in a better mood through the release of endorphins, so when tanning beds were brought over to the United States beginning in the late 1960s, people lined up to give themselves that nice healthy glow. After all, you could get your skin all golden brown without having to go near any of that dirty old sand to sit on a beach all day or expose yourself to that dangerous old sun. Just UV rays of a similar power. That's all.
Eventually, people also started noticing that sprawling across a bunch of UV lightbulbs, go figure, had some of the similar drawbacks to spending a little too much time in the sun. The whole industry began to be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the 1980s, but there was still no age limit on who could actually stroll into a tanning booth and start the work of baking their skin into roughly the texture and appearance of a football.
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And the thing is, the young people are more naturally vulnerable to UV rays, so their skin is more prone to pick up skin cancer more quickly than an older person. So, you know, maybe they shouldn't be allowed to get themselves all tanned up until they're 18, same age you can legally vote, smoke and get yourself all tatted up.
Anyway, that's what the esteemed folks up in the Texas legislature think. In between working on all kinds of interesting legislation on things like abortion and redistricting, lawmakers found time in the special session called by Gov. Rick Perry to pass legislation keeping those under 18 years of age out of the tanning beds.Texas has become one of six states to ban tanning for teens, joining up with California, Vermont, Oregon, New Jersey and Nevada, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
The AAD also noted that most people who tan are white women, between the ages 16 and 29, and that 2.3 million of the 28 million people who indoor tan annually are teens. The association also pointed out that studies have found there's a 75 percent increase in the risk for melanoma from those who have been exposed to UV radiation from tanning. So basically, the odds of getting skin cancer are extremely high. The odds of tanning so much you end up looking so Oompa Loompa-esque that you don't even need a Halloween costume are even greater than that.
The bill passed last week and goes into effect September 1.