Bill would ban tanning beds for most teens

OLYMPIA — Most teenagers wanting bronze skin would have to look elsewhere under proposed legislation in Washington state that would ban those under 18 from using tanning beds.

The bill, heard before the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor on Monday, was introduced by Sen. Curtis King. The Yakima Republican said he doesn’t want to listen to another young woman tell him about fighting cancer for the rest of her life as a result of tanning during her teenage years.

“It’s tough to think of that impact,” he said.

Under Senate Bill 6065, users of tanning equipment would have to show a driver’s license or other form of government-issued identification with a birth date and photograph. Tanning facilities that allow people under age 18 to use a tanning device could be fined up to $250 per violation.

King said this topic has been discussed for nearly five years in the legislature and that this year’s bill has input from tanning industry representatives. Several voiced their support for the bill at the hearing.

Daniel Mann, owner of a Seattle chain of tanning salons, said this version of the bill is a viable compromise. His comment came after it was noted that a previous version of the bill included a fine of up to $1,000 per day.

Joseph Levy of the American Suntanning Association said the group supports the bill and called the issue overblown because the percentage of business the law would affect is only a small percent.

California, Illinois, Nevada, Texas, Vermont and Oregon ban the use of tanning beds for all minors under 18, and at least 33 states and the District of Columbia regulate the use of tanning facilities by minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Frequent exposure to ultraviolet rays for individuals under the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma—the most aggressive and deadliest form of skin cancer—by 75 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says young, non-Hispanic white women are the most common users of tanning beds.

Michelle Neary, 42, of Elma, Wash., told the committee she started going to tanning salons at age 14 and said she and her family didn’t know of the potential dangers. Now diagnosed with melanoma, she’s had multiple moles removed, has to monitor her skin and wear sunscreen and sun-protective clothing.

“It’s been four years since my last melanoma, but I continue to worry,” she said.

Marc Antezana with the Washington State Dermatology Association urged the bill’s passage.

“Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer,” he said. “Pass this bill and reduce the chances of a child developing melanoma in the future.”

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