Florida law goes easy on tanning

By Anne Geggis
Staff writer

Florida law goes easy on tanning
A customer uses a tanning bed to get ready for the first part of summer on Tuesday at LAE Beauty Tanning & MediSpa in Gainesville. (Erica Brough/Staff photographer)

So-called tanning mom Patricia Krentcil has been roasted on “Saturday Night Live” and she has heated up the late-night joke circuit. But if the New Jersey resident with the well-done look really wanted to put her 5-year-old daughter in a tanning booth — as authorities accuse her of doing in child endangerment charges brought last month — she should have come to Florida. Because in this state, it’s entirely legal — provided she accompanies her child.

Florida is one of 21 states that don’t specifically set a minimum age for indoor tanning, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Nationally, though, legislatures appear more willing to take up the issue. California became the first to ban indoor tanning for those under 18 starting Jan. 1 and Vermont followed soon after. A similar law is awaiting the governor’s signature in Utah, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dr. Kim Merkel, a chief dermatology resident in the College of Medicine at the University of Florida, said she would like to see more states follow California’s lead.

“Any exposure to a tanning bed is harmful — I don’t condone any of it,” Merkel said. “It’s because UVA and UVB radiation (found in a tanning bed) causes changes to DNA and predisposes it to become malignant. And that’s how skin cancers develop.

“On a more cosmetic level, it breaks down the elastin and collagen in the skin, which causes wrinkles and premature aging.”