Teen tan ban goes into effect

TRI-CITIES, Wash. - KEPR reported months ago on the teen tan ban in the sate of Washington and Thursday it officially went into effect.

Kelly Fennell has owned and operated Soleil Ami tanning salon for the last four years and business has not been getting better.

"Within the last three years it has declined because of anti-tanning messages," said Kelly Fennell.

Starting this week she will have to aim her business at a new demographic. On Thursday Washington state passed a teen tan ban, no kids, 17 years of age of younger, will be allowed to use a tanning salon.

"Pretty frustrating, not that you want to build your whole clientele on kids tanning, but for dances and before summer gets here, getting ready for summer, that has taken a hit," said Fennell.

It's that hit others are celebrating., Dr. Sidney Smith, local dermatologist, says most of his clients deal with UV exposure. He says he has been fighting for this law to pass for years.

"By preventing these young kids from before they are of age of real accountability from tanning, we're going to help them save their lines in the long run," said Dr. Sidney Smith.

But Kelly argues, this law could actually do more damage, saying if kids can't use a tanning bed they are still going to lay out under the sun. The difference is at a salon, they can regulate how much exposure people get.

"In here we can time it, when you go outside you don't time it, you just go outside and you're out there," said Fennell.

"There is no such thing as a healthy tan, a tan means your skin has been damaged, so if your skin is damaged, many people want to fix damaged skin, so there is no good value for a tan," said Dr. Smith.

There are more than 20 tanning salons in the Tri-Cities and for owners like Kelly, their business future is uncertain.

"I'd like to think that I can, but it's hard to say," said Fennell.

Doctors say the safest way to get a tan are spray-on tans.