A bill that would ban young people from using beds at tanning salons passed 30-17 Thursday in the state Senate.
Currently, those younger than 16 can use the beds if a parent is present, and those 16 to 18 can tan alone with written permission from a parent or guardian. The proposed measure would ban anyone younger than 16 from tanning, and it still would require those 16 to 18 to have written permission.
Sen. Mark Stoops of Bloomington said the bill could help parents combat the "awesome power of the teenage girl who wants something their friends have" and protect children from the dangers of skin cancer.
But Sen. Jim Smith of Charlestown pointed out a loophole that would not ban children of any age from tanning at in-home beds. Smith also questioned whether the responsibility to decide what is healthy for children should fall to the state or parents.
"This bill literally is a slippery slope," said Smith, one of the 17 lawmakers who voted against the bill.
Sen. Patricia Miller of Indianapolis, the bill's author, said it has gained support from the tanning industry. However, some local business owners say the measure is not necessary.
Bronze Bay Tanning Center owner Marcy DeShong said state laws already in place are enough to protect minors. She said few children younger than 17 visit her business, and those who do usually come for health reasons: a boost of vitamin D or treatment for acne.
She hopes lawmakers amend the bill to allow minors to tan with a prescription.
"You can't produce vitamin D in Indiana in the winter," DeShong said. "Not if your shadow is longer than you are tall."
The bill still has to pass the House before it can be sent to the governor. It would be go into effect immediately upon the governor signing it.