Last Modified: Monday, April 28, 2014 1:16 PM
A prohibition on anyone under the age of 18 in Louisiana using tanning beds represents a positive step.
House Bill 746, by state Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, would ban minors from using any tanning facility equipment that emits ultraviolet light for the purpose of tanning. Tanning businesses would also have to display a sign at their entrance stating that state law prohibits people under the age of 18 from using tanning equipment that emits ultraviolet light.
Current state law allows teenagers age 14-18 to use ultraviolet light tanning equipment with their parents’ consent.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has long expressed concern about exposure to tanning beds’ ultraviolet light at such an early age.
The FDA says intermittent exposure to intense UV radiation leading to sunburns, especially in childhood and teen years, increases the risk of melanoma.
“Young people may not think they are vulnerable to skin cancer,” said Dr. Ron Kaczmarek, an FDA epidemiologist. “They have difficulty thinking about their own mortality.”
According to an FDA study, of the more than 68,000 people in the nation who will learn they have melanoma this year, one out of eight will die from it. In addition, the American Academy of Dermatology reports that melanoma is the second-most-common cancer in women 20 to 29 years old.
According to two studies, more than 2 million teenagers visit tanning salons annually in this country. No less than seven studies reveal that a person’s risk of developing melanoma increases by 75 percent if they use tanning beds before the age of 35.
About half of the states in the country regulate tanning bed use for teenagers, according to the World Health Organization. The National Conference of State Legislatures says that five states ban the use of tanning beds for all minors under 18.
Moreno’s bill passed the House 97-1 and has been approved by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
The full Senate should follow suit and send it along for Gov. Bobby Jindal to sign it into law.