Sunshine covers the beautiful beaches surrounding Long Island, begging to be inhabited and enjoyed. Instead, many people are choosing to get that sun-kissed look in a plastic tube surrounded by bright ultraviolet bulbs.
Now New York has some of the strictest laws in the country regarding indoor tanning for minors after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Monday, making it illegal for anyone under the age of 17 to use indoor tanning devices, and those ages 17 and 18 must have parental consent.
Such laws are not new; at least 31 states have laws restricting or banning indoor tanning for minors, some requiring parental consent or a prescription. California, Utah and Vermont all passed laws this year prohibiting minors from tanning, and for good reason: The stuff can kill you.
Albany legislators said the ban is to protect teenagers from skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States, and melanoma, the most dangerous and fatal of the skin cancer category. The ultraviolet rays from indoor tanning increase the risk of melanoma by 74 percent - and the more tanning, the higher the risk. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 76,250 new cases of melanoma diagnosed this year and 9,180 deaths from the easily preventable disease.
Most know the tips to protect skin when outdoors for extended periods of the day when the sun is at its peak, but no one is getting into a tanning bed with covered skin, sunglasses and a hat.
Studies by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention reveal that at least half of the teenagers are using a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, but that won't help the other chunk exposing their bare skin to the harsh lamps.
Other countries are realizing the dangers of toasting humans in electric boxes. Even Brazil, which gave us the tall and tan lady from Ipanema, has banned indoor tanning beds completely. The United Kingdom, Germany, Scotland and parts of Australia and Canada have banned indoor tanning for minors as well.
Many tanning worshipers younger than the cutoff age are upset about losing the right to endanger themselves, but mothers around the state are probably rejoicing right now that the government is now the bad guy instead of the mom who won't let her daughter burn herself to leather.
The risks of cancer and death outweigh the benefits of looking tanned and glowing.
Pictured above: A woman lies on an indoor tanning bed.