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The tanning phenomenon is largely a female one. Among white 11th-grade boys in Minnesota, only one in 20 used a tanning bed at any time in the past year, according to the student survey data.
State lawmakers have begun confronting the problem; California, for example, bans tanning bed use by minors. In Minnesota, in-person parental permission is needed for anyone under 16 years old to use a commercially operated tanning bed. The state Health Department is also promoting a “UVideo Challenge,” calling on teens to create short videos about the dangers of tanning.
Smith hopes word will get out so she has fewer 20-year-olds regretting their life choices as teens. She lost a 30-year-old patient last year.
“If I could have changed one thing in my life,” Smith recalled the patient saying. “I wouldn’t have — and then she used an expletive — gone to the tanning booth.”
Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report.
Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744