A Connecticut woman is fighting to make it so health clubs aren’t allowed to offer tanning beds in their facilities.
It does seem like a mixed message, as gyms are places to get healthy and tanning beds are known to increase the risk of getting skin cancer.
Now there is a petition to end the strange contradiction.
“You know, if you had a hookah lounge in a gym, you would say ‘wow, that’s really not safe,’ if you were getting free unlimited cigarettes with your health club membership we would say that doesn’t make sense,” said Mandi Gavlak who created the petition.
Gavlak is an esthetician who said she has seen far too many clients getting skin cancer from tanning beds, so she started a petition on Chang.org, urging lawmakers to get them out of health clubs, arguing tans don’t fit with fitness.
“Our hope is to encourage health and fitness facilities to take their health and fitness seriously, eliminate this and prevent cancer,” Gavlak said.
Erin White is one of Gavlak’s clients, and someone who used tanning beds for years, got skin cancer, and is now a staunch supporter of the petition.
“I completely agree. I think the concept of calling them health clubs and then providing potentially the unhealthiest thing you could provide seems to be just ridiculous,” White said.
Bloomfield Dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Pennoyer said it is women in their late teens and 20s most at risk, attracted by the memberships offering unlimited tanning.
She said even a little is bad, and unlimited is disastrous.
“There was a study that showed that one tanning bed session increases your risk of squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent, one tanning bed session increases your risk of basal cell carcinoma by 29 percent, one tanning bed session increases your risk of melanoma by 20 percent. That’s huge,” Pennoyer said.
Eyewitness News reached out to a number of gyms throughout Connecticut that offer tanning booths and as you might expect, they did not want to comment, but there are gym owners who say they would never offer them at their facility.
“We don’t want to say one thing we’re trying to get you healthy, but by the way pay an extra $10 and we’ll let you pound this hotbox, it doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said gym owner Andy Breton.
Many insurance companies offer discounts to their members if they join a gym, but some of the health clubs on their approved lists offer tanning.
Eyewitness News told Senator Richard Blumenthal about the petition and the conflict that exists with insurance companies, and he agrees.
“Insurance companies ought to use their moral persuasion and their financial power to dissuade gyms from offering tanning beds because they clearly are against the health interests of both the people using them and the insurance companies,” Blumenthal said.
A spokesperson for Cigna said many of the gyms on their approved list are chains, and it is up to the franchisee if they offer tanning.
Cigna said it tries to encourage its members to join gyms and it hopes they will make right choices once inside.
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