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When is it OK for teens to get too many UV rays?
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Sacramento can't control its urge to spend more money than they collect but they can tell the rest of us how to go about living our lives.

Case in point: The law that went into effect Jan. 1 making it illegal for anyone under 18 to use a tanning bed in California. Up until the legislature acted, those 14 to 18 had to have parental permission to use a tanning bed.

No one is going to argue about the potential health ramifications of overexposure to ultra violet rays. However, the moral and legal authority the state is using is a bit interesting given the legislature is essentially in a business as well that can cause harmful skin diseases to those under 18. The California Legislature operates a slew of beaches - along the ocean and at lakes - where those 18 and under have been known to sun bathe in excess. While tanning beds offer a more concentrated exposure to UV rays, it isn't much different than someone toasting under the sun for long periods of time.

Perhaps the folks in Sacramento might want to make the exposure of any amount of skin for anyone under 18 illegal at California beaches controlled by the state.

If the end result is the same, then exposure for short periods of time in a tanning bed and long exposure on beaches are no different.

How can state leaders in good conscious allow those under 18 to subject their skin to harmful UV rays for long periods of time on a beach they control if such exposure has been proven to lead to skin cancer?

The argument that it is "natural" doesn't cut it. After all, in the history of civilization it hasn't been natural except for perhaps less than a century for most under 18 to have enough time to purposely fry their skin in the sun in order to "look better." Improved standards of living and child labor laws put in place by the government have made that possible.

So in a very direct way, government actions are responsible for an increase in skin cancer.

If it sounds like an absurd argument it is no more absurd than the state feeling compelled to outlaw tanning bed used by those under 18.

There was no clear evidence that tanning salon operators were allowing those under 18 to spend excessive times in tanning beds. The fact that it might happen is what drove the law.

Yes, it might be wise to ban those under 18 from using artificial means to tan themselves involving UV rays as a way to protect their health and lives. But at the same time you could protect the health and save lives of a heck of a lot more Californians under the age of 18 if the state simply made it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to drive.

A lot more lives - and health - of those under 18 would be saved by doing that than outlawing tanning bed use.

But then again logic and consistency has never been a hallmark of legislation coming out of Sacramento.

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.