March 18, 2009

Texas Teen Tanning Bill Under Consideration

A House panel considered a bill on Tuesday that would require Texans under the age of 18 to have a doctor's note in order to use tanning beds unless they are under parental supervision, the Austin American Statesman reported.

Many doctors support the bill due to the dangers of ultraviolet light.

Lawmakers also heard testimony from the owner of a tanning salon company who said the proposal would hurt business.

The bill's author State Rep. Burt Solomons said it was designed to enact the strictest tanning regulations for teens in the nation.

He told members of the House Committee on Public Health that tanning salons were basically luring teens in, much like big tobacco.

People younger than 18 already need a parent's permission to use tanning beds in Texas. Those under 16 have to have a parent at the salon while they are tanning, and anyone younger than 13 needs a doctor's note.

However, the bill would expand those restrictions to everyone under 18 so that teens talk to their doctor about the risks of tanning, Solomons said.

"This is not about banning tanning salons for teens," he added.

Even one exposure to tanning beds before age 35 can increase the risk of melanoma, according to Dr. Sharon Raimer, president of the Texas Dermatological Society. She said that while that form of cancer is curable if caught early, it can still spread easily and does not respond well to treatment after spreading.

Raimer believes there is no good medical reason for getting in a tanning bed. "If people want to go get ready for prom, they can go get sprayed with self-tanning agents "” those are totally safe."

Many tanning salon owners, such as Diane Lucas, president of Palm Beach Tan, a national company based in Farmers Branch that has 75 locations in Texas, said tanning salons already have plenty of oversight and only about 5 percent of her business comes from customers under 18.

Lucas, who said there are about 1,300 indoor tanning facilities in Texas, warned that taking away that piece of the business would be extremely detrimental during the current economic state.

"Sometimes I have a hard time telling businesses what they can and can't do, but this is a public health issue," said the panel's chairwoman, Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, who did not endorse the bill.


On the Net: