Tanning Bill Goes to Governor Nixon for Final Approval

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COLUMBIA - Friday is the last day Missouri lawmakers are in legislative session.

On Monday, the Missouri House voted 103-38 in favor of HB1411. The bill requires anyone under the age of 17 to get permission from their parent or guardian before tanning.

"The importance behind the legislation is to educate parents to make the best possible decisions and to provide guidance for their children," bill sponsor Rep. Gary Cross said. "Every parent is concerned about the health and security of their children, and so this is something I am very, very passionate about."

The legislation is a response to public health advocates shining light on the risks associated with indoor tanning and added exposure to ultraviolet light, especially among teens.

Dermatologist Kimberly Cayce went to the capital testifying in favor of the legislation. Cayce said it is dermatologists' obligation to protect the youth from tanning beds, which increase the risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.

Missouri Cancer Associates Hematologist/Oncologist Mary Muscato said people who start tanning before they are 35 have a 75 percent increase in developing melanoma, and if it is not caught early enough and spreads it is very likely to be fatal.

The Centers for Disease Control said melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer.

"I think the legislation is just going to make parents very aware of the risks and dangers associated with ultraviolet light in particular in the indoor tanning devices," Cayce said. "Also, how it can increase the risk of melanoma by 59 percent and with increased exposure that risk goes up and up."

Both Cross and Cayce think it was the persistence of dermatologists and other supporters throughout the state that finally got the bill passed in Missouri.

Health care professionals will now have the task of creating a standardized consent form for parents of children under the age of 17 to sign before their child can tan. Cross said the group will include not only health care professionals, but also some members of the government, and small business owners.

Cayce said the group will probably take tips from prior states that have gone through the process and go from there. Currently six states already ban tanning for anyone under 18, and at least 33 states regulate tanning for minors.

"Our intent is not necessarily to harm any business or small businesses, but to be honest as a dermatologist, and again with the full intent of protecting my patients, I would hope that we certainly do decrease the numbers that visiting those tanning bed industry," Cayce said.

The consent form will only be good at the location it is signed at. Also, forms need to be renewed on a yearly basis. Tanning salon employees can be fined if they do not follow the regulations, and patrons can be fined if they misrepresent who they are. Cross said, for example, if someone goes into a tanning salon claiming to be someone's parent and the tanning salon finds out otherwise, then the person who misrepresented themselves will be fined not the tanning salon.

The first violation will be a $100 fine, the second violation will be a $250 fine, and the third violation will be a $500 fine.