A new law will go into effect Jan. 1, which will ban teenagers in Illinois from tanning beds. Those under 18 will now be prohibited from visiting tanning salons, even if they have their parents’ permission.
This new law, signed by Gov. Pat Quinn earlier this month, will prevent young teens from prematurely exposing themselves to the harmful effects of tanning beds before they are adults. In the past, those younger than 14 were restricted from tanning booths, while those 14 and above were able to use them with parental consent.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Jim Almeda, Health Promotion and Wellness coordinator, said. “There’s certainly a lot of research out there on the harmful effects of tanning. In the past, having a parent’s permission meant they could do it, but I’m not sure if parents always realize the effects.”
“We wish there weren’t any tanning beds at all, but once someone is 18, they are pretty much an adult,” he added. “More people are becoming aware of the effects, but there are those who still do it for a variety of reasons.”
Junior marketing major, Kate Vilt said, “I totally agree; tanning is just as dangerous and causes cancer as easily as smoking and we have an age limitation on that.”
Another law being put into effect the first of the year that will affect teens is the ban of electronic cigarettes for those under 18.
Electronic cigarettes do not actually contain tobacco, but are typically filled with flavored nicotine, which gives those who use them a hit without creating any smoke. Similar to regular cigarettes, teens under 18 will be forbidden from buying “alternative nicotine products.”
Store clerks will now be expected to check the IDs of anyone who appears to be under the age of 27. The bill was signed in an effort to ward off young people from starting to smoke.
“They are being marketed as more of a ‘safe alternative’ to smoking — do we know for a fact that there aren’t any harmful chemicals?” Almeda said.
While this product might be promoted as an alternative to help people quit smoking, consumers should not be deceived. Research suggests electronic cigarettes are much more dangerous than the industry wants consumers to believe.
This product still produces secondhand smoke and each hit is laden with formaldehyde, toluene and nicotine. Those looking to quit smoking should not turn to this alternative to get their fix.
Almeda advises to avoid getting involved with electronic cigarettes because it can lead to addiction of other, riskier types.
“The best alternative of all is to avoid them to begin with,” Almeda said.
The new laws on these fads were passed in an effort to make young people stop to think about the risks they may be exposing themselves to by partaking in either of these activities.