Legislators Debate Restricting Teen Tanning

5 years 10 months 9 hours ago Wednesday, February 15 2012 Feb 15, 2012 Wednesday, February 15, 2012 3:28:00 PM CST February 15, 2012 in News
By: Andrew Scott Weil

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri House Health Care Policy Committee heard public testimony Wednesday on two bills that would restrict teens from tanning. One bill would require teens under the age of 17 to get parental approval before tanning while the other would ban anyone under the age of 15.

Brundha Balaraman, a dermatologist from the Washington University School of Medicine, told the committee that those who use tanning beds are three times more likey to get melanoma skin cancer than those who don't. She also testified that melanoma is the most common form of cancer in women ages 15-29.

Rep. Gary Cross, R-Lee's Summit, sponsored the bill requiring parental approval for anyone under 17. He said the purpose of his bill is to provide awareness for the safety of young people.

Cross also told the committee about his very close connection to the topic. He spoke about how his daughter was told by her doctor throughout high school to stop using tanning beds. But, she continued artificially tanning until her senior year in college, when she was diagnosed with pre-cancer cells. "We have a situation where melanoma is the most deadly form of cancer, either we deal with it or it's going to deal with us," Cross said.

Cross also said he would be fine with the committee combining the two separate bills into one.

Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, amended his bill, after what he described as a drafting mistake, which originally would have made anyone younger than 15 who went tanning and their parents guilty of a class C misdemeanor. In his updated bill, only the tanning facilities would be fined if they allowed tanners under the age of 15. Barnes said he wants it to be on each facility to verify age.

Barnes also said that kids shouldn't be doing something that has a carcinongenic affect at that age. "The benefits of a part-time tan versus the risk of life-long cancer are not worth it," Barnes said.

No one spoke in opposition to either bill during the hearing. The committee is scheduled to vote on the restrictions next week.

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