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Legislation Would Bar Minors From Tanning Beds

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Tanning bed (CBS)

Tanning bed (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – These days, many teenagers use tanning beds to get that “sun-kissed” look, but there’s a national push to change that.

And as CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports, Illinois lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it illegal for anyone younger than 18 to use tanning salons, even if they have parental consent.

For decades, tanning beds have been the key to bronze bodies for millions of Americans, but researchers say that key has also opened a deadly door. 

“We think that, as far as tanning goes, that there is a relationship with the time spent in tanning and the subsequent development of melanoma,” Dr. Howard Kaufman, the director of Rush University Cancer Center, says.

Because of those concerns, some Illinois lawmakers want to bar anyone under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning beds — even if they have the consent of a parent or guardian.

Cancer survivors like Anne Crockford, who started using tanning beds at the age of 14, welcome the legislation. 

“It’s important for a lot of reasons,” she said. “When you’re 14 years old, you don’t have a lot of information on your hands. You see the signs that say this might cause cancer. You don’t believe it’s going to happen.”

But tanning salon owners say the bill is just another government attack on their industry. 

“Even though you’re using the tanning salon, it’s the same thing as going in the sun,” said Matthew Turner, who owns Halsted Street Beach.

Dr. Kaufman disagrees. 

“There is more data to support that there is a relationship between tanning and melanoma formation because you’re getting a prescribed dose of ultraviolet radiation,” he said.

Crockford believes making tanning illegal for minors is the only way to make them understand the dangers. 

“Melanoma is no joke.  It’s just as deadly as lung cancer.  It’s not fun to deal with,” she said. 

A public hearing on the Senate bill was scheduled for this week in Springfield, but it has been postponed until the following week. The House is also considering a similar bill that would ban minors under the age of 18 from using tanning facilities.

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