Local tanning salon owner says his business is unaffected after Minnesota tanning prohibition law

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Young tanners in Minnesota haven’t found warmth from the use of tanning beds this winter.

Peter Freese, owner of Electric Beach By GQ on Huff Street and GQ Hairstyling Tanning on Gilmore Avenue in Winona, said he hasn’t felt repercussions from a tanning law that prohibited minors from using tanning beds on August 1, 2014.

It was no surprise to Freese the indoor tanning industry was under attack.

He chose to ignore it.

Minors comprised two percent of his tanners and business, according to Freese.

“It hasn’t affected our business at all,” Freese said.

The tanning prohibition was a feel-good law, according to Freese.

“I think most parents if it was put to a question, would agree the law takes away parental rights,” Freese said.

Most teens come in with parents to get pre-tans before trips to warmer areas to prevent sunburn, according to Freese.

GQ Hairstyling Tanning on Gilmore Ave. is owned by Peter Freese.
GQ Hairstyling Tanning on Gilmore Ave. is owned by Peter Freese.

In May 2014, Minnesota legislators and governor Mark Dayton signed a bill to prohibit minors the use of tanning beds.

DeAnn Lazovich, associate professor in the school of public health at the University of Minnesota, Ph.D., M.P.H., conducted a study on indoor tanning and its dangerous effects.

The American Cancer Society organized a lobbying campaign for stronger indoor tanning laws for the state of Minnesota, Lazovich said.

Lazovich educated legislators about the risks of indoor tanning.

“I was available as an expert on the topic,” Lazovich said.

Lazovich’s study found those who used indoor tanning beds have a 74 percent chance of melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer.

“Minors are at a higher risk because adolescents are more likely to try out risky behaviors,” Lazovich said.

The accumulated number of tanning sessions increased the risk of skin cancer.

When a 16-year-old girl starts tanning, it’s likely she will carry it into adulthood, and by age 30, the tanning sessions are built up dramatically, Lazovich explained.

A stand-up tanning bed at GQ Hairstyling Tanning on Gilmore Ave. owned by Peter Freese.
A stand-up tanning bed at GQ Hairstyling Tanning on Gilmore Ave. owned by Peter Freese.

“Melanoma is the second most common type of cancer found in young women and in high school girls,“ Lazovich said.

Michelle Strangis, cancer policy coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Health, explained how the American Cancer Society’s lobbying group gathered legislation authors for the bill and then carried it through the session.

“I’m really hopeful people are going to decrease their tanning. I think they will start thinking of tan skin as damaged skin and not beautiful,” Strangis said.

Strangis provided research information for legislators through two news releases.

The first release in January 2013 stated melanoma has increased in white, 20 to 49 year old women in Minnesota.

“For the last 15 years, melanoma has increased by four percent in these women,” Strangis said.

This is the highest increase rate of any type of cancer Strangis explained.

“That’s a very concerning statistic from a public health perspective,” she said.

In January 2014, a second release focused on the dangers of indoor tanning amongst white female students in 11 grade in Minnesota.

In this group, 34 percent said they tanned once in the last year. Secondly, the majority of this group said they tanned ten or more times in the past year, according to Strangis.

“Those two press releases generated a lot of media and were influential for getting support for the bill to prohibit persons under 18 tanning at salons,” Strangis said.

Through the American Cancer Society and once lobbyists got organized, the bill passed rapidly in the summer of 2014, Lazovich said.

For tanning salon owner, Freese, he saw the legislation as politicians “at their best” and a “small victory.”

By Kayla Langmaid

 

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