Proposed bill would prohibit those under 18 from using commercial tanning beds

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A Utah lawmaker wants to keep minors away from tanning beds.

If passed, House Bill 34 would prohibit those under the age of 18 from using a commercial tanning facility in the state of Utah, even with permission from a parent or physician.

According to Representative Bradley Daw, he has strongly opposed bills like HB34 in the past on the grounds of parental rights.

But when faced with the evidence from advocates, Daw said he couldn’t deny that proposing the bill during the 2020 Legislative Session was the right decision.

“The fact is that the risk of skin cancer goes through the roof if you go to a tanning bed,” he said. “It’s far worse for younger kids because their skin is so much more vulnerable.”

Daw told legislators on the first day of the 2020 legislative session that he spoke with dermatologists and medical personnel on the topic.

“They have unequivocally told me there is no legitimate medical need for tanning,” he said.

However, Steve Floyd, a maintenance technician for a tanning bed distributor, said he doesn’t think the bill is the best idea.

“They’re (tanning salons) already pretty well regulated as far as minors using tanning equipment. They cannot use it without a parental approval every time they use the equipment, so even if they come in one time and say, “Hey, my kid can use all the equipment they want,” they still have to come with them every time and sign,” he said. “There’re a lot of health benefits to tanning between the vitamin D and it actually helps with depression. I think that’s something that would be taken away from a lot of kids.”

The bill had a rocky start, according to Daw. He said it was voted down the first day of the 2020 Legislative Session. On the second day, he was able to gather enough votes to have the bill reconsidered. The bill is currently on its third reading.

Daw said the concern over the bill is parental rights.

“I get it- it’s a valid concern, but we don’t let kids smoke. We don’t let kids drink because it’s so harmful to them,” he said. This fits in that same category.”

Daw said that throughout the process of researching and introducing the bill, he has never had a parent reach out to him to say that they need to allow their child to tan.

“When a teen goes into a tanning bed and gets that tan, even if it is a 10 minute, quick tan, their risk of melanoma later in life just almost doubled. Is that really what you want for your kid?” he said.

Daw said the rays emitted by a tanning bed damage the lower levels of the skin right where melanoma would form. He said that one of the biggest groups of people who tan are girls in the 16 to 18 age range.

“They are the most vulnerable group, and this bill would stop that practice until they turn 18… ” Daw said. “Beyond the fact that it would keep them from tanning, it may also send a message after they turn 18, maybe I don’t want to do that.”

According to Daw, the bill would still allow those under 18 to tan at home if they were to buy a tanning bed.

He invited those who want to see the bill passed to call their legislator and let them know.

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