Tanning beds have been around since the early twentieth century, ironically created in the form of lamps to help people with a vitamin D deficiency. Commercialized in the 1970s, tanning beds have become a gateway for increased skin cancer chances.
The story of the tanning bed is almost parallel to the cigarette. Tanning beds were exploited and quickly seen as a safe and normal way to become beautifully tan. However, time passed and there was a spike in skin cancer. Medical research concludes tanning beds are a huge cause of this spike, but people still use them regularly despite the hazards.
After the negative effects of cigarettes were found, organizations and legislation arose to combat the societal norm of smoking in an attempt to produce a healthier population. Companies were banned from airing commercials. Anti-smoking campaigns were launched in schools and cigarette companies were forced to warn individuals about the dangers of smoking right on the box.
The parallels between cigarettes and tanning beds promptly end there. Massive campaigns have not been launched to warn about the health hazards associated with tanning beds, and there are no warning labels on the machines.
With the definite risks proven to be associated with tanning beds, there should be massive campaigns against them. Legislation should be enacted not to take away the option from the public, but to fully warn of the serious risks lurking behind the perfectly bronzed body.
People should be aware of how tanning lotion is meant to amplify the UV light’s effect on the body instead of protecting it from burning.
Regular advertising of these dangers, similar to the smoking’s Truth campaign—especially for teens—should already be airing. Signs should be displayed in front of tanning beds warning the consumers what they are about to put their bodies through.
It is easy to ignore the health concerns when young, but youth will not be a shield forever. The decisions made at an early age will come back to bite. Wouldn’t you rather have healthy skin for your entire life, than have bronze skin for the summer?