The Missouri House of Representatives is currently working on two bills that would limit minors’ use of tanning devices.
House Bill 1283 proposes outlawing the use of tanning devices for anyone younger than 15. Parents or guardians who knowingly allow their child younger than 15 years of age to use a tanning device will also be guilty. Violation of this law would result in a class C misdemeanor.
House Bill 1475 proposes the parent of any child younger than 18 must be present at the tanning facility and give signed consent before the child enters the tanning device.
Tanning facilities that violate the provisions of either bill will receive a $1,000 fine for each offense.
The proposed effective date of both bills is Aug. 28.
“If they’re going to do that, they might as well outlaw pools, beaches and golf courses,” Rick Mount, the manager of Profiles Tanning Salon in Columbia, said. “That’s what really irritates me. You’re a lot more likely to get a sunburn from one of those places than in a tanning bed.”
Luckily for Mount, only about 0.5 percent of Profiles’ customers are between the ages of 15 and 17. He does not expect a major decrease in revenue.
Freshman Ashley Krage, who has used tanning beds since she was 16, said her parents never really approved of her choice.
“My parents weren’t happy about it, and I don’t think they would have signed a consent form if this law existed a few years ago,” she said.
Krage primarily goes to Magictan Studios, whose manager refused to comment on the bills.
Rep. Gary Cross, R-District 48, has personal experience with the dangers of tanning beds. A cancer survivor himself, Cross began working on this bill when he learned of the melanoma epidemic in young women.
“I have a daughter that used tanning beds in high school and was diagnosed with pre-cancer cells when she was in college,” he said. “I didn’t know about the dangers of tanning beds, and I’m sure many parents don’t know either. I want to help educate parents.”
After researching tanning beds and skin cancer, Cross learned the ultraviolet rays in tanning devices are 10 to 15 times stronger than the sun. In 2009, tanning beds were deemed “carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, made this statement after reviewing more than 20 studies that concluded one’s risk of skin cancer increases by 75 percent if one uses a tanning device before the age of 30.
When making this bill, Cross collaborated with Dr. Lynn Cornelius, a dermatology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, as well as his own daughter, a family practitioner. Both testified at the bill’s hearing.
“As House representatives, we want to make a difference and do the right thing,” Cross said. “I am optimistic the bill will pass.”
Currently, there is no legislation regarding tanning beds in the state of Missouri. Most states in the United States, however, have made progress on the issue, passing legislation that regulates minors’ use of tanning services. Brazil has even outlawed tanning beds altogether.
California was the first state to outlaw tanning for minors in October 2011. Prior to that, tanning facilities required written parental consent for minors.