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Woman charged after five-year-old allegedly burned in tanning booth

A New Jersey mother is facing charges after her five-year-old daughter allegedly suffered burns after being taken into a tanning booth.

The Star-Ledger reports that Patricia Krentcil, 44, was charged late last month after her daughter showed up at school with burns. School officials notified police.

The issue of indoor tanning salons has been receiving more attention in recent years as health advocates, parents and some politicians have been pressuring governments to ban children from using them.

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A recent B.C. law prevents anyone under 18 from using indoor tanning salons, similar to a law preventing those under 19 from indoor tanning in Nova Scotia. A private member's bill has recently been introduced in Ontario asking for similar legislation.

New Jersey does have a law that blocks children under 14 from using tanning salons. In Ms. Krentcil's case, the tanning salon said she took the child into a stand-up tanning booth without its knowledge.

While this case may be extreme, it turns out that many parents support their children's indoor tanning habits. A survey commissioned last month by the Ontario branch of the Canadian Cancer Society revealed that nearly one-quarter of young people who tan indoors were introduced to the habit by their parents. More than half of youth indoor tanners got the money to pay for it from their parents.

One issue that could help explain this is a lack of awareness of the dangers of tanning. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, ruled in 2009 that indoor tanning is carcinogenic. Research shows that risk of potentially deadly cancer rises significantly if a person uses tanning devices before age 30.

But the tanning industry may confuse consumers by promoting itself as a stable alternative to the uncontrolled UV rays one would be exposed to sitting outside. Many tanning salons also promote their equipment as being safer or helping to protect from potentially harmful damage. Many salons actively target teens and young people with promotions for events such as prom or graduation.

The assertions the industry makes aren't true, according to organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society, the Ontario Medical Association and the Canadian Paediatric Society.

Should young people be banned from indoor tanning salons?

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More

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