OLYMPIA -- Minors would not be allowed to get a tan in a tanning salon in Washington under a bill that passed the Senate today.
In a 40-8 vote, the Senate set the age limit for using a commercial tanning bed or booth at 18 or older -- but not before veering into a brief debate over abortion.
The bill sets a civil penalty of $250 for each time a salon allows a minor to use an ultraviolet tanning device. It does not restrict minors from getting spray-on tans at a salon.
Supporters said it was necessary to protect young teens who don't realize the tans they get now can cause damaging and even fatal skin cancers in their 20s or 30s.
Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, tried to add a line to the restrictions for minors using tanning booths that would have required parental approval of "any surgical procedure." The bill aims to protect young people from making bad decisions that can cause them physical harm later in life, but supporters seemed to be "compartmentalizing" their concern for their well being, he said.
"They may also make a very poor choice that could cause them mental disfiguring for years," Benton said. "If this body intends to protect minors from making bad decisions...why do we single tanning out?"
But the Legislature regularly restricts teens from certain activity such as smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or using marijuana, and restrictions on tanning are no different, Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent said.
Benton's amendment was ruled out of order and SB 6065 was sent to the House without any amendments.