Last Modified: Thursday, March 13, 2014 12:29 PM
BATON ROUGE — Anyone under the age of 18 would be banned from using tanning beds, if lawmakers agree to a proposal overwhelmingly backed Wednesday by the House health care committee.
Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, said her bill would lower risks of skin cancer associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps and beds. She said she introduced the measure after hearing from dermatologists and reviewing data about the dangers associated with indoor tanning equipment.
“It was absolutely clear to me then that Louisiana needs legislation like this so we can prevent cancer cases,” she told the House Health and Welfare Committee.
Under current law, teenagers ages 14-18 can use indoor tanning facilities if they get a written statement from their parents saying they understand the risks and give their consent. Anyone under 14 must be accompanied by a parent.
Dermatologist Mara Haseltine said that incorrectly gives parents the perception that tanning beds must be safe, if minors may use them.
Haseltine, who has a practice in Metairie, supported Moreno’s bill, saying tanning beds give off stronger levels of UV light than typical sun exposure, raising the risk of cancer. “The evidence is clear. It’s getting stronger by the day,” she said.
Kora Morgan told lawmakers that she started tanning at 13 years old, using a tanning bed at home. The 40-year-old mom from New Orleans said she now has an incurable, terminal skin cancer that caused tumors and forced the removal of a “Satsuma-size portion” of her lung.
“I’m very confident that in years to come we’ll look back at tanning beds the way we do at cigarettes,” she said.
The bill is supported by the Louisiana State Medical Society.
The House Health and Welfare Committee advanced the proposal to the full House for debate with a 17-1 vote.
Rep. Richard Burford, R-Stonewall, was the only vote against the measure. He said he didn’t want his vote to be interpreted as being “in favor of letting children suffer,” but he said he disagrees with the government telling parents how to raise their children.
California, Illinois, Nevada, Texas and Vermont ban the use of tanning beds for all those under 18, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington’s Legislature also gave final passage to a similar prohibition this week.
“It’s amazing what we do for beauty and good looks. As it relates to protecting our children, I think this is a good bill,” said Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge.
No one asked the health care committee to oppose the bill, and the owner of one tanning facility testified in support.
Brian Trascher, owner of Planet Beach Contempo Spa in Metairie, said he’s never felt comfortable with people under the age of 18 coming to his store to use the tanning beds, and he said he’s tried to discourage parents from allowing it, suggesting tanning spray instead.
He said Moreno’s bill “can help me as a business owner by aligning my policies with my conscience.”