Bill banning minors from tanning beds sailing through legislature
Research shows melanoma rates for young women in Minnesota have increased about 5 percent every year for 15 years.
A bill that would prohibit minors from using tanning beds awaits floor votes in the House and Senate after sailing through committees in both chambers.
Current law requires parental consent for minors under 16 to use tanning beds, but the bill authored in the house by Rep. JoAnn Ward, D-Woodbury, would flat-out prohibit their use by anyone under 18.
Ward says research showing tanning beds are especially harmful for young people motivated her to write the bill.
Rep. JoAnn Ward
"Research shows the ultraviolet radiation exposure in terms of carcinogenic production is equal to cigarettes and asbestos," Ward says. "The greatest instances of melanoma are men over 60 and young women in their 20s."
Ward says her bill enjoys "good strong bipartisan support," especially after the tanning industry recently came out in favor of it.
That was a significant development, as just a couple of years ago the Indoor Tanning Association was trying to blame Minnesotans' relatively pale skin, not tanning beds, for the state's rising skin cancer rates.
As for the argument that the state should allow parents to decide whether to let their kids tan, Ward counters that in cases where products or services are clearly harmful, regulation is warranted.
"As a parent you don't take your child and let them spend their money from mowing the grass on cigarettes or alcohol," Ward says.
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