Plans to ban minors from tanning beds gain traction

LOS ANGELES – If a proposed law passes, California teens under 18 will need a fake ID to “fake and bake” themselves to a golden brown.

Citing skin cancer risks, legislators have joined lawmakers in at least 21 other states who have debated bills this year to ban or restrict tanning bed use by minors.

Teens under age 14 are already banned from tanning beds in California, and older teens need parental permission. But lawmakers in the Golden State are considering banning anyone under age 18 from using tanning beds, even if a parent says it’s OK.

Sen. Ted Lieu, who proposed the more stringent legislation, says the parent signatures on permission forms are often forged, and tanning salons benefit financially by looking the other way. The bill has been approved by the Senate and faces review by the Assembly policy committee today.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, exposure to UV radiation, whether from the sun or a tanning bed, can cause skin cancer, burns, premature skin aging and eye damage. Approximately 30 million Americans visit tanning salons every year, and 2.3 million of those are teens, the FDA says.

In 2009, a World Health Organization research group classified UV-emitting tanning beds as “carcinogenic,” adding that health officials should strongly consider restricting minors’ access to sunbeds.

Along with California, lawmakers in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are considering banning tanning beds for people under age 18. Similar legislation failed this year in Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and New Mexico.

Legislators in Massachusetts are considering a ban for teens under 14 or 16 in two separate bills. Lawmakers in Washington, Florida, Kentucky and Vermont rejected such measures this year.


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