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Tanning for Minors Faces Restriction

Legislation in Virginia's House of Delegates could prevent teens under 15 from using indoor tanning salons and require those older to get parental permission.

By Allison Landry, Capital News Service

Virginians under age 15 would no longer be able to use indoor tanning salons under legislation moving through the General Assembly.

The Senate approved SB 1274, which would prohibit individuals younger than 15 from "using tanning devices at tanning facilities.”  Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-17) voted for the measure.

It would also require 15 to 17-year-olds to obtain parental or guardian consent before visiting a tanning parlor, with the exception of emancipated minors -- teenagers who are legally adults because of a court order, marriage or military service.

The bill is now awaiting review in the House Committee on Commerce and Labor. 

“The goal is to try to reduce incidents of cancer, which is a significant issue particularly for children and adolescents who use tanning beds,” Sen. George Barker (D-Alexandria) said. “Tanning beds have clearly been shown to contribute to cancer, and children and adolescents are the ones that are most vulnerable to that.”

Taylor Marrow and Emma O’Brien, students at Centreville High School in Fairfax County, brought the issue to Barker’s attention and helped write the legislation. They testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.

“Through our research, we found that tanning is not only a carcinogen, but it is also particularly damaging to children and their development,” O’Brien said.

After winning an endorsement from the committee, SB 1274 passed the Senate on a 34-5 vote.

The existing law does not explicitly restrict minors 15 and older from using a tanning salon. It says only that customers under 15 must get written permission from a parent or legal guardian every six months.

“I feel that this law is a waste of time and there are bigger things that need to be addressed,” said Dan Shorkey, owner of Fan Tan in Richmond.

Shorkey said his customer base includes mostly Virginia Commonwealth University students, not high school students. However, he said, tanning salons near high schools might run into trouble because they may serve a younger demographic.

Randy Raggio, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Richmond, said the legislation could give teenagers and their parents second thoughts about the safety of tanning.

“Anytime you attach a safety concern to a product or service, it may cause people to think twice about it,” Raggio said. “So it could have an overall effect on the demand for tanning services.”

California, Vermont and Illinois are among states that have recently passed laws to restrict minors from visiting indoor tanning salons.

For example, California banned teens under 18 from indoor tanning. Virginia is unlikely to go that far, state officials say.

To many people, other environmental health concerns in Virginia that take precedence over tanning, said Gary Hagy, director of food and environmental health at the Virginia Department of Health.

“There is only so much you can do to protect the youth of an area,” he said. For Virginia, “indoor tanning is not as much of an environmental threat as it might be for California.”

Research into the health risks of indoor tanning has prompted states to restrict tanning, said Samantha Guild, president and founder of AIM at Melanoma, a cancer research organization.

“There are a lot more findings from scientific studies that show there is clearly a link between indoor tanning beds and melanoma and other skin cancers,” she said. “There is also a lot more public awareness about the dangers. The general public is urging that legislators bring this issue up.”

How They Voted

Passed Senate (34-Y 5-N)

YEAS – Alexander, Barker, Black, Blevins, Carrico, Colgan, Deeds, Ebbin, Edwards, Favola, Garrett, Hanger, Herring, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Marsh, McEachin, Miller, Newman, Norment, Northam, Petersen, Puckett, Puller, Reeves, Ruff, Saslaw, Smith, Stanley, Stosch, Stuart, Watkins – 34.

NAYS – Martin, McDougle, McWaters, Obenshain, Wagner – 5.

NOT VOTING – Vogel – 1.

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1Ronald February 12, 2013 at 01:36 PM
Nail those teenagers. Keep them a whiter shade of pale ( Procol Harem). Let's get beyond the General Assembly's knee jerk reaction--the ME-TOO that you voted in. Ask questions. Look for tanning beds that have ELECTRONIC, not magnetic ballasts. If you can believe their answer. And, teenagers and everyone else, the sources who will steer you correctly are Dr. Mercola, D.O., an osteopathic physician, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, M.D., (you see him on TV), and Dr. Michael Holick, M.D., dermatologist and Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine has written several books on the sun including "The UV Advantage: New Medical Breakthroughs Reveal Powerful Health Benefits From Sun Exposure and Tanning." In addiition, Dr. Sam Shuster, research dermatologist, professor emeritus Dept of Dermatology, Newcastle University in northern England has stated in his book, Panic Nation, that "a tan is the body's natural protection against sunburn." Dr Shuster further advises that any alleged increase in skin cancer incidence is not based on actual numbers but only estimates. Dr. Shuster also states, "Unfortunately our attitude to sun and UV light is subject to much perverse and dubious technical 'advice' which society has passively accepted without questioning its provenance." I realize that run-of-the-mill dermatologists get a real charge at frightening the general population. But, here, I have cited accomplished authors who are prolific writers in their respective fields.
1Ronald February 12, 2013 at 07:33 PM
Yet, one more reason to lower the voting age to 15. Send shivers up their spines. Make them sweat big time. The chickens will finally have come home to roost. And when they restart the Draft, there will be even more who will have a reason to be in the streets protesting open and blatant age discrimination. This is the last remaining vestige of socially permissible but flagrant violations of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. You NEVER EVER hold ANYONE to a higher standard. And when you do, that's another freedom lost forever or until the will of the people decides to reclaim it.

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