Coalition Wants Ban on Indoor Tanning Beds For Minors

Coalition Wants Ban on Indoor Tanning Beds For Minors

12:37pm May 13, 2014
Image courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control

A statewide coalition of doctors and cancer survivors want legislation prohibiting minors from using indoor tanning beds.

The Youth Skin Cancer Prevention Act would ban children under 18 from indoor tanning facilities in North Carolina. The current law sets the minimum age at 14.

The North Carolina Dermatology Association says teens and young adults who begin tanning before the age of 35 have a 59 percent higher risk of melanoma. Karen Tyler of Asheboro is a survivor of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. She says she started going to a tanning salon about 20 years ago when she was just 12. She doesn’t want other teens to follow in her footsteps.  

The North Carolina Dermatology Association, the state Child Fatality Task Force and the American Cancer Society are among the organizations that support banning minors from tanning salons. Last year, the American Suntanning Association – an advocacy group for suntanning retailers – spoke in opposition of the change. But Joseph Levy, a scientific advisor for the group, says it will back the bill – if the coalition tones down its anti-industry rhetoric. For example, he says the coalition claimed that ultraviolet exposure from sun beds was as dangerous as arsenic, tobacco and plutonium. Levy says such a claim mischaracterizes the risk, and he wants to see a more balanced discussion.

Levy says cancer prevention should focus on the risks of sunburn for all ages, not just the risks of tanning salons. The bill passed the state House in last year’s session but did not come up for a vote in the Senate. Supporters hope the Senate will take up the measure this session, which begins Wednesday.

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