Raleigh, N.C. — For the second time in a little over two years, the state House has overwhelmingly approved a proposal to ban North Carolina minors from using indoor tanning beds.
The House voted 103-12 on Tuesday in favor of House Bill 158, which was named The Jim Fulghum Teen Skin Cancer Prevention Act after former Rep. Jim Fulghum, R-Wake, who was a primary sponsor and a fierce advocate when the ban was initially proposed in 2013. Fulghum died last year.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many studies worldwide have linked the use of indoor tanning equipment to increased melanoma rates. The costs to treat melanoma grew by 125 percent over the last decade – five times faster than any other cancer, the CDC reports.
"It is no exaggeration to say we are in the middle of a skin cancer epidemic," said Rep. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth.
Current law allows minors 13 and up to use indoor tanning beds with a note from a parent, but bill supporters say it's not well enforced. The bill would prohibit owners or operators of tanning beds to allow anyone under 18 to use them.
Eleven other states already prohibit minors from using tanning beds, Lambeth said, and tanning salon chains support North Carolina's proposal as a way to steer teens toward higher-margin spray-on tans.
Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, said he spoke with the operators for several tanning salons and found they didn't think it would hurt their businesses.
"Most of us have kids, and they all think they're bullet-proof. Unfortunately, we have parents who are quite as responsible sometimes as they should be," Horn said. "We need to step up and give good guidance to our young people."
The bill, which has the support of the American Cancer Society, the North Carolina Dermatology Association and the State Child Fatality Task Force, now heads to the Senate, where the 2013 measure stalled.