Committee passes ban on tanning for young teens

Commercial tanning beds may soon be off limits to Hoosiers younger than 16 under a bill approved Wednesday by a Senate committee.

Senate Bill 50 – unanimously passed by the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee – would repeal a provision that allows minors 15 years of age and younger to be accompanied by a parent or guardian when using a tanning bed at a salon. The bill also requires 16- and 17-year-olds to have a parent or guardian’s written consent given in front of tanning salon operators before being allowed to tan.

SB 50 now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, no other state has specifically banned tanning for minors under 16, although 33 states have some sort of regulation on tanning for minors and five states have gone as far as completely banning minors from tanning.

All who testified in Wednesday’s committee meeting supported the bill.

Dermatologists William Hanke and David Gerstein spoke to the committee about the dangers of allowing minors to use indoor tanning methods. The doctors cited a study published in 2011 that found a 69-percent increase in the risk of basal cell carcinoma due to tanning, a risk that is even higher for those who tan prior to turning 16.

The two also discussed the widespread nature of melanoma, which is the most common cancer in people ages 25 to 29 and the second most common cancer in people ages 15 to 29.

Hanke cited data from the American Cancer Society that estimated that there were 1,470 new cases of melanoma in 2013 and approximately 230 deaths in Indiana alone.

“For all these reasons, no amount of UV exposure from tanning beds is safe. There is no such thing as a safe tan,” Hanke said. “By definition, a tan in evidence of skin damage.”

Gerstein and Hanke urged the committee to see that stronger laws are needed due to the damage that can be done by tanning.

“We as physicians can only educate the public so much,” Gerstein said. “Our government restricts the minors’ use of tobacco and alcohol. We do not have parental consent permission for use of cigarettes or alcohol for teenagers. For something that’s classified as dangerous of a substance as cigarettes, why do we need to consent to ultraviolet radiation exposure when tanning?”

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