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Bartenstein D, Diven D, Allred J, Reed K. Indoor Tanning Devices in Student Apartment Complexes: A Study of 2 Texas University Communities. JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(8):905–906. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.1189
Indoor tanning increases the risk for melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer.1,2 It is popular among college students; researchers estimate that 43% of university students had used indoor tanning in the prior year.3 A recent study of 125 US universities found that nearly half had indoor tanning available on campus or at apartments near campus, 96% of which offered indoor tanning without charge.4 We investigated the prevalence of apartments offering on-site free tanning as well as adherence to Texas state law prohibitions against indoor tanning for minors at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) and Texas A&M University (TAMU). Specifically, we assessed compliance with the Texas Administrative Code that outlaws the use of indoor tanning devices by minors.5
We used the websites google.com, apartmentguide.com, collegestudentapartments.com, and daftlogic.com to find apartments within a 5-mile radius of the center of both campuses. From June 17, 2014, through July 30, 2014, one of us (D.B.) called each apartment to ascertain the approximate number of residents in the building who were students, whether free indoor tanning was offered, and whether indoor tanning for minors was allowed. This was not considered human subjects research, and the Institutional Review Board of the Office of Research Facilitation, Seton Family of Healthcare waived the requirement for approval.
Fifty percent (12 of 24) of apartments within 1 mile of UT Austin and 31% (22 of 72) within a 2-mile radius of TAMU offer free on-site indoor tanning. Within a 5-mile radius, more than 11 500 renters near UT Austin and 17 500 renters near TAMU have access to free indoor tanning on site. Most of these locations were apartments with predominantly undergraduate and graduate students. Of these apartments, 18% (3 of 17) and 32% (8 of 25) near UT and TAMU, respectively, of personnel answered that no consent was needed for a 17-year-old to use the tanning facilities and 53% (9 of 17) and 48% (12 of 25), respectively, answered that minors were allowed to use the tanning facilities with parental consent. Only 1 of 17 and 1 of 25 apartment personnel at UT and TAMU, respectively, knew that use of indoor tanning facilities was prohibited for minors.
Dermatologists have been effective in calling attention to the dangers of tanning salons for noncompliance with state and federal legislation.6 Our investigation suggests that noncompliance is also problematic when apartment buildings have indoor tanning beds and booths operated by office staff whose primary job is not monitoring these devices. The majority of employees that we questioned did not adhere to the Texas state regulation banning access to indoor tanning facilities to minors. This phenomenon of free on-site tanning in apartment buildings is substantial—more than 29 000 renters in close proximity to UT Austin and TAMU campuses have such access. When students go to college they are exposed to a plethora of risk behaviors. We can now add indoor tanning to this list.
Accepted for Publication: March 30, 2015.
Corresponding Author: Diana Bartenstein, AB, 46 Sanderson Rd, Lexington, MA 02420 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: June 3, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.1189.
Author Contributions: Ms Bartenstein and Dr Allred had full access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Study concept and design: Diven, Allred, Reed.
Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: Bartenstein, Diven, Reed.
Drafting of the manuscript: Bartenstein, Diven, Allred.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: Bartenstein, Diven, Reed.
Statistical analysis: Bartenstein, Reed.
Administrative, technical, or material support: Reed.
Study supervision: Diven, Reed.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.
Previous Presentation: This research was presented at the Texas Dermatological Society 2014 Annual Fall Meeting; October 24-25, 2014; Bastrop, Texas.