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Take It Personally: California's new tanning law could shine on Ohio

Court Street — it can be considered the consumer center of Athens. Strolling down it, you’ll pass typical college-student attractions: several fast-food restaurants, a couple of bookstores and, coming soon, three tanning salons. That’s right, three.

If you think that’s not enough ultraviolet rays for this college campus, consider that one of the major apartment complexes designed for Ohio University students attracts residents with the perks of a movie theater, a pool and free access to tanning beds.

Now where could this be going other than some rant about the health risks of tanning?

Well, I’m not one to preach on that topic. I’m looking forward to my first (sure to be long) pale winter in many years because I’ve promised myself to avoid the beds. The fact that this is seemingly a challenge speaks volumes.

But I am sick of hearing about the harmful consequences of even a few (relaxing and oh-so-warm) minutes under the ultraviolet bulbs, as I’m sure we all are.

I’ve heard enough class presentations and seen enough student-made PowerPoint presentations about melanoma and premature aging since my sophomore year at good old Medina High School to be a certified expert on the topic.

The interest in tanning on our campus alone is shocking, and it’s not just a local trend. The hype has grown enough in recent years to gain just about everyone’s attention, and now someone else is stepping in.

As of Sunday night, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill banning minors (anyone younger than 18) from using indoor tanning beds — and that’s without either parental permission or parental accompaniment.

There are 30 other states that have been using some type of minor restriction on tanning beds, including restrictions that require a parent’s signature or parent accompaniment, but California’s is the first law of its nature in the nation that completely bans anyone younger than 18.

Some 21 states have been reconsidering imposing the age restriction that California has imposed and are already just a few beats behind.

And yes, Ohio is among those 21.

Sorry little sis, it might be a pale prom after all.

It might astonish some of you that I consider this important. Just look at the array of other options to obtain that envied summer glow: There are airbrush tans, lotions, and even some do-it-yourself cans. Some of us will just have to find ways to cope without the lure of the tanning salon, whether it’s due to the health factor or the age restriction.

But there is a bigger point to all this.

Tanning has been a hot health topic for a while now, and as the popularity of indoor tanning has grown, so has the knowledge of the risks that come along with it.

Some of us might think it absolutely necessary for the government to step in with parental consent, tanning taxes and now the biggest move with the strict age cut-off. Some of us might think this too big and bold a move of the government. I fall in between.

Whether you frequent Outer Glow, or think the whole soaking-in-UV-rays hobby is ridiculous, this new imposition has consequences for everyone.

Tanning beds may be the cigarettes of our generation. We’ve been consistently educated about the harmful health consequences that this so-called deadly habit causes, and because we haven’t taken enough action to slow the growing trend, the government finds itself jumping into the fray.

Some people use tanning to get away for a few minutes, and others are addicted to that sun-kissed look. Unfortunately for them, the youngsters in

California are no longer able to reap either benefit.

But whether or not indoor tanning is your recreation of choice, the government has imposed on your freedom to choose.

Nicole Spears is a sophomore studying public relations and a columnist for The Post. Are you afraid of Ohio following suit? Email her at

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