By Allison Landry, Capital News Service
Virginians under age 15 would no longer be able to use indoor tanning salons under legislation moving through the General Assembly.
The Senate recently approved Senate Bill 1274, which would prohibit individuals 14 and younger “to use a tanning device at a tanning facility.”
Taylor Marrow and Emma O’Brien, students at Centreville High School, brought the issue to the attention of Sen. George Barker and authored the legislation. They testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.
“Through our research, we found that tanning is not only a carcinogen, but it is also particularly damaging to children and their development,” O’Brien said.
The bill would require 15 to 17-year-olds to get parental or guardian consent before visiting a tanning parlor, with the exception of emancipated minors –teenagers who are legally adults because of a court order, marriage or military service.
The bill could become law, pending the outcome of a House vote. It is waiting to be reviewed in the House Committee on Commerce and Labor.
“The goal is to try to reduce incidents of cancer, which is a significant issue particularly for children and adolescents who use tanning beds,” Barker said. “Tanning beds have clearly been shown to contribute to cancer, and children and adolescents are the ones that are most vulnerable to that.”
Watch O'Brien and Marrow testify before the Senate Subcommittee.
After winning an endorsement from the committee, SB 1274 passted the Senate on a 34-5 vote last week.
The Virginia Department of Health’s indoor tanning regulations have not been updated since 2007. A number of tanning regulation bills were introduced in the General Assembly in recent years, but none have passed.
Some tanning salons oppose the bill.
“I feel that this law is a waste of time and there are bigger things that need to be addressed,” said Dan Shorkey, owner of Fan Tan in Richmond.
Randy Raggio, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Richmond, said the legislation could give teenagers and their parents second thoughts about the safety of tanning.
“Anytime you attach a safety concern to a product or service, it may cause people to think twice about it,” Raggio said. “So it could have an overall effect on the demand for tanning services.”
California, Vermont and Illinois are among states that have recently passed laws to restrict minors from visiting indoor tanning salons.
Research into the health risks of indoor tanning has prompted states to restrict tanning, said Samantha Guild, president and founder of AIM at Melanoma, a cancer research organization.
“There are a lot more findings from scientific studies that show there is clearly a link between indoor tanning beds and melanoma and other skin cancers,” she said. “There is also a lot more public awareness about the dangers. The general public is urging that legislators bring this issue up.”
How They Voted
Passed Senate (34-Y 5-N)
YEAS – Alexander, Barker, Black, Blevins, Carrico, Colgan, Deeds, Ebbin, Edwards, Favola, Garrett, Hanger, Herring, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Marsh, McEachin, Miller, Newman, Norment, Northam, Petersen, Puckett, Puller, Reeves, Ruff, Saslaw, Smith, Stanley, Stosch, Stuart, Watkins – 34.
NAYS – Martin, McDougle, McWaters, Obenshain, Wagner – 5.
NOT VOTING – Vogel – 1.