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Centreville High Students Help Draft Tanning Legislation Before General Assembly

Taylor Marrow and Emma O'Brien help draft legislation preventing teens under 15 from using indoor tanning salons and require those older to get parental permission.

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.

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Lauren Buck February 13, 2013 at 10:09 PM
I’m curious how much research they actually did. Tanning doesn’t cause Melanoma. Recent studies have shown that exposure to the UV lights cuts your risk of getting Melanoma. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22017922 This is due to the Vitamin D that your body produces once its exposed to UV lights. Yes, tanning beds are on the list of known carcinogens but, so is the sun as well as leather and wood dust! There are far more important issues they should be focusing on, not if my child is allowed to go in a tanning bed if they are under a certain age. When will people realize using a tanning bed in moderation, it’s actually good for your health. More than 95% of the US and Canadian population is vitamin D deficient and a big reason for this is because of the sun scare campaign created by sunscreen companies and dermatologists. It’s come to my attention dermatologists, sun screen companies and Government are no longer looking out for our best interests, it’s more how it benefits them. Tanning beds were created to mimic the sun and it does just that BUT it’s a much more controlled environment, especially in a tanning salon. Dermatologists use the exact same bulbs in their offices to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis. The only difference between the dermatologist’s office and a tanning salon is that the dermatologist purposely burns you to treat the disease which does indeed increase your risk for skin cancer.
R. Grazia February 13, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Uhhmm...sorry this doesn't fly with me! Tell me this same info after being diagnosed with stage IV melanoma before 20 cuz you tanned a few hrs a month since 14 yrs of age! This is a huge problem now! Especially where I'm from in Arizona!!
kathleen February 14, 2013 at 05:35 AM
I agree with Grazia! I wondering where the heck buck got this info. I'm stage 3 melanoma and one of the causes is tanning beds. First thing my dermatologist asked me.was if I tanned a lot when I was younger.
Joe Bagadonuts February 15, 2013 at 03:51 AM
Google "Lauren Buck" and "tanning". She's the Director of Community Relations for the Vitamin D Foundation, which is associated with tanning industry. Ms Buck is a tanning industry shill. See: http://smarttan.epubxp.com/i/42580/92 Note that she's tanned her young skin into a freaky shade of Coach Leather brown. and http://www.fairwarning.org/2012/08/burned-by-health-warnings-defiant-tanning-industry-assails-doctors-sun-scare-conspiracy/

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