Teen tanning ban heads to House floor

Posted March 13, 2013

tanning bed

A proposal to ban people under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning beds could get a House vote next week after its approval by a subcommittee Wednesday morning. 

Current law bans children under 14 from using tanning beds except with a physician's prescription. Teens 14 to 17 need a parent's permission.

House Bill 18, the Youth Cancer Prevention Act, is a flat ban with no exemptions for permission or prescriptions.

Several members of the House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee on Business and Labor expressed reservations about the ban but said they were persuaded to support it because of the weight of scientific evidence in its favor.

"This was a bill I was not excited to vote on, supporting freedom," said Rep. Susan Martin, R-Wilson. "But looking at all the data, it clearly is a health concern and growing."

Rep. Brian Brown, R-Pitt, said he was backing the ban because of a friend who's battling skin cancer at the age of 32.  "It's clearly defined that she received that from a tanning bed. There's no other explanation for it," he said.

But opponent Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, said teens who can no longer use tanning beds will instead lie out in the sun without supervision. "I firmly believe that doing this is going to increase skin cancer because there's nobody looking after that child, there's nobody caring about that child," she said.

Avila said the ban takes away parents' rights to make decisions for their children. "We are not a nanny state." 

Rep. Bert Jones, R-Rockingham, disagreed. "If you follow that line of thinking, we probably shouldn't have any laws in this state banning minors from going out and purchasing cigarettes," he responded. "But we do have laws that say a minor cannot go out and buy cigarettes because of the health concerns." 

Indoor tanning industry spokesman Joseph Levy told the committee the state's current rules are adequate. He insisted that the science linking ultraviolet radiation to melanoma "is not straightforward"  and said he fully expected the ban would "increase the incidence of sunburns." 

But North Carolina Dermatologists' lobbyist Rob Lamme derided Levy's skepticism, saying the research linking UV rays and skin cancer is "literally about 3 feet high these days" and is accepted by virtually every medical group in the state.

Lamme also assured the committee that banning teens from tanning beds won't put tanning salons out of business. In fact, he said, the industry is already seeing a shift from tanning beds to spray-on tans, which have a higher profit margin for salons. 

"This bill is going to speed up a process that's already occurring in this industry," he said. "These kids will migrate their dollars away from indoor tanning – they're already doing that – and into spray tans."

The bill won approval easily after about 20 minutes of debate. Only two members voted against it: Avila and Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe.


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  • Brian Jenkins Mar 14, 2013

    Look on the bright side. This will allow the teens to escape one of those ObamaCare taxes. Too bad for them, they can not escaped the boatload of taxes that were included, unless they choose to not work. They might as well, they can get food, housing, medical care, a phone and on and on. why bother working.
    March 13, 2013 6:11 p.m.
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    Nothing to do with Republicnas expanding the nanny state. LOL you Romney liberals always go to Obama by default.

  • kornfan2448 Mar 14, 2013

    "I just don't know why a 14 year old needs to tan. Go outside and play in the backyard."

    I have NEVER been on a tanning bed, but growing up on a farm, I was ALWAYS outside and I ALWAYS had a tan. I absolutely agree, more kids should get outside more, but sun exposure is going to do the same thing. Just proves how absurd this ban is.

  • Ex-Republican Mar 13, 2013

    Government needs to stop making all these stupid laws and start repealing other laws like rear seat seat-belts for adults, motor cycle helmets, decriminalization of marijuana for adults, etc.

  • workingforthosethatwont Mar 13, 2013

    more gov't in our lives

  • whatelseisnew Mar 13, 2013

    Look on the bright side. This will allow the teens to escape one of those ObamaCare taxes. Too bad for them, they can not escaped the boatload of taxes that were included, unless they choose to not work. They might as well, they can get food, housing, medical care, a phone and on and on. why bother working.

  • whatelseisnew Mar 13, 2013

    "Do any of you good people remember that "jobs, Jobs, JOBS!!!" lie"

    Lets see you had 100 years of lefty control. It takes a while to undo all the enormous damage. As to this bill, it should not even be in existence. If people are stupid enough to get in a tanning bed, then so be it. I can see having an age restriction and one already exists, that is enough.

    As to jobs, as I have often said. That is not the role of Government. I have no idea why people believe the Government is supposed to create jobs. They can only create GOVERNMENT jobs. I don't want anymore Government employees, I want fewer.

  • geosol Mar 13, 2013

    Do any of you good people remember that "jobs, Jobs, JOBS!!!" lie that the REPUBLICANS used to get elected to the NC legislature? Well, apparently the REPUBLICANS don't. Do you remember the REPUBLICANS promising "less government rules and regulations"? Well apparently the REPUBLICANS don't. Unless, of course, the logical equation is true, that REPUBLICAN = HYPOCRITE.

  • hpr641 Mar 13, 2013

    So ... teens are using private establishments' tanning beds too much and giving themselves skin cancer (either quickly, or a bit later in life). Because of their youth, they heal quickly and thus it's not easily realized all the damage they're doing to themselves. So, what do we do???

    Have the State ban 'em for teen use ... EVEN with a Dr.'s prescription. REALLY???

    Side note: Tanning beds are regulated by the FDA BECAUSE they were developed to aid in healing (think scar tissue).

    You feel the political heat to "do something?" Fine - pass a requirement that the shops get parents' permission for teen clients, clearly note the hazards of overexposure, and note the maximum tanning schedule recommended by the FDA. Again, that'd be fine. But at some point, you have to allow people to make decisions for themselves (AND their children) that you may not like or agree with. Because in any case, there should be little doubt that if this goes through, such teens will just lay out in the

  • Wirklich Mar 13, 2013

    Save It,
    Re: Hillbilly Utopia, hilarious but sadly true. Yes, the Darwin Awards will sort it out. Unfortunately, the taxpayers will have to pay for their foolish choices.

  • Save It Mar 13, 2013

    "If this legislation prevents one death, or even one preventable case of skin cancer, it's worth doing".

    And if lifting the law on motorcycle helmets causes even one death you are against the legislation? Or will you change your partisan tune with some lame talking point because that is also legislation introduced by the GOP? Just don't be so lame as to resort to quoting the constitution. I don't think I can stomach another poorly interpreted, hypocritical cliche from the right.