Missouri Representatives and physicians support bills restricting teen tanning
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Missouri Representatives and physicians support bills restricting teen tanning

Date: February 15, 2012
By: Josie Butler
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB1475 HB1283

JEFFERSON CITY - Teens would be restricted from tanning salons if two bills pass that would require parental consent.

Donna Payne, the owner of a tanning salon in Jefferson City, said she is not worried about the bills. Payne said most teens who come into her salon, Tropical Tans, are under the age of 17 and come in with their mothers or pay with their parents' credit card. She also said she does not think the proposals would affect business because most of the clients are between 25 and 45 years old.

The first bill, sponsored by Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, would ban the use of tanning beds to children under the age of 15. A substitute put forth by the House Health Care Committee would make the punishment for a first offense a $250 fine and a $500 fine for a second offense, as opposed to a class C misdemeanor, which the original bill proposed. 

Barnes mentioned the risks and harm caused by tanning. He said we have higher instances of skin cancer because society views tanning as a "good thing."

"Children are more susceptible to harm caused by tanning devices than other people are," Barnes said. "Children are different, they are not old enough to know what's best for them."

The second bill would require parental consent for the use of tanning beds to teens 17 years and younger.

"We feel like this bill is dealing with a very deadly disease called melanoma," bill sponsor Rep. Gary Cross, R-Kansas City, said. He also said Missouri has no regulations on tanning.

Cross said his daughter tanned throughout high school and was later found to have precancerous cells.

"We need to educate parents and make recommendations as far as giving guidance to these young individuals as far as making healthy choices in life," Cross said. 

Rep. Margo McNeil, D-St. Louis County, said requiring parental consent would make parents look further into tanning and help educate them about the dangers.

"If a parent has to come in and sign off then it automatically alerts you that there is a problem," McNeil said.

Dr. Rachel L. Hailey, a physician in Lee Summit, presented a statement from the National Cancer Institute saying tanning bed users are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who never use tanning beds. Hailey urged representatives to support the bills to protect the youth from potentially life threatening cancers.

No one testified in opposition to either bill.

The committee members said prompt action will be taken.

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