More than one-third of tanning salons do not comply with state regulations regarding minors’ access to indoor tanning, with the worst compliance rates among salons in the Southern United States, according to research published in JAMA Dermatology.1

The World Health Organization recommends that individuals younger than 18 years should be banned from indoor tanning, which has been repeatedly linked to melanoma incidence. The United States does not ban minors’ access to tanning salons at the federal level; this is instead regulated by states.

For this study, researchers posed as minors and made phone calls to multiple indoor tanning salons in states with tanning regulations (42 states and Washington, DC). Rates of compliance, reasons for non-compliance, and state regulations were analyzed.

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Four hundred and twenty-seven tanning salons were contacted. Overall, 32.7% of contacted salons were non-compliant with their respective state’s regulations. The most common reason for non-compliance was tanning with parental consent at a banned age (32.1% of all non-compliance cases).

States with a greater number of regulations had higher non-compliance rates (50%), as did tanning salons in rural locations (defined as a population of fewer than 15,000; 45.5%), tanning salons in Southern states (49.3%), and independently owned salons (compared with salon-chains; 43.9%). Every salon in Illinois, New Hampshire, and Oregon was compliant.

Salons in Alabama had a 0% compliance rate with state regulations.

While the authors noted that telephone-use, rather than in-person visits, may have contributed to the high rate of non-compliance, these results show “the need for more education and better law enforcement regarding state legislation and the harmful effects of UV indoor tanning.”


  1. Williams MS, Buhalog B, Blumenthal L, Stratman EJ. Tanning salon compliance rates in states with legislation to protect youth access to UV tanning. JAMA Dermatol. 2017 Oct 25. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.3736 [Epub ahead of print]