Raleigh, N.C. — After refusing for years to even hear similar bills, the state Senate on Wednesday voted 48-2 to ban the use of indoor tanning beds by people under age 18.
House Bill 158, entitled the "Jim Fulghum Teen Skin Cancer Prevention Act," is on its way to the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory.
The late Rep. Jim Fulghum, R-Wake, championed the bill in 2013. Similar past proposals were filed by former Sen. Bill Purcell, D-Scotland.
Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union, said Wednesday that he's an "involved parent" but had allowed his daughter to use the beds in the past because he wasn't aware of the increased risk of skin cancer they pose.
"I did not have any idea that a tanning bulb was 14 times more damaging than regular sunlight," he told the Senate, adding that studies show young women who use indoor tanning beds face a 59 percent higher risk of melanoma.
Tucker pointed to Sen. Louis Pate, R-Wayne, who was treated for melanoma, and to Sen. Wesley Meredith, R-Cumberland, who lost his first wife to melanoma at age 24.
Fulghum's daughter Emily was in the gallery to watch the vote.
The only two "no" votes came from Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson. Neither spoke during the debate, but at the close of session, Apodaca stood to explain those votes.
"We do believe it is a parent’s privilege and right to decide what their children do in this instance. If a parent deems it's OK for their child to go to a tanning bed, though I wouldn’t agree with that choice myself, I think the parent should have that right," Apodaca said. "So, that was the only reason, and out of respect to the Fulghum family, I didn’t want to talk while they were here."
A spokesman for McCrory said Wednesday afternoon that the governor will sign the measure. It would take effect October 1, 2015.