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Will California teen tanning ban curb overbaking elsewhere?

California girls are famously sun kissed.

But teens who hope to achieve the "overbaked" look of celebs such as Charlize Theron will have to rely on natural rays now that California has banned tanning beds for the under-18 set, USA Today reports.

The Golden State is the first in the United States to prevent children under 18 from using tanning beds. Texas has banned them for children under 16, while 30 other states have some age restrictions in place.

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In Canada, indoor tanning is prohibited for those under 19 in Nova Scotia, and for children under 18 in Greater Victoria.

The ban in California, the most populous U.S. state, will be a blow to small businesses, according to the Indoor Tanning Association, which estimates that up to 10 per cent of the industry's customers are under 18.

The new bill also means the end of mother-daughter bonding under the bronzing lamps. A 2010 study found that 40 per cent of young women were introduced to tanning salons by their moms.

But because of the type of radiation used in tanning beds, indoor tanners under age 30 face a 75-per-cent increased risk of melanoma, research shows.

Despite the case against fake-n-bakin', teens are bombarded with images of actors and rock stars baked to a crisp. (A notable exception is Katy Perry, the milky white It girl who nevertheless sings the praises of tanned skin in California Gurls.)

Supporters of the California ban note there are more tanning salons in Los Angeles County than Starbucks coffee shops or McDonald's restaurants. And that's in a city with 290 days of sunshine a year.

Are bans on tanning beds enough to stop teens from getting too many rays? Do celebrities, as role models, have a responsibility to ditch the orange glow?

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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