The House Committee on Health Care Policy heard the measure, sponsored by Rep. Gary Cross, Wednesday. Cross, R-Lee's Summit, proposed the same legislation in 2011 but it died in the House.
Brundha Balaraman, a doctor with Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, said there are approximately 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer in a year. She said that the UV rays in tanning beds are 10 to 15 times more intense than sunlight. Balaraman also said there has been a rising rate of childhood melanoma cases.
Owners of tanning salons in the state said they already require parental consent for minors.
Randy Burleson, who owns Club Tan in Joplin, said his salon requires consent for anyone under the age of 16. He said he supports the idea of consent because parents should know what their kids are doing. Burleson said he believes the statistics are exaggerated and he did research before opening his salon and was convinced that he would do no harm.
Cross, a cancer survivor, said his daughter tanned frequently in high school and has since been diagnosed with precancerous cells. He said an individual's risk for melanoma increases by 75 percent after the use of a tanning bed.
Joseph Levy, from the American Suntanning Association, said his group supports constructive regulation at the state level but the 75 percent statistic was derived from a survey and is not accurate.
The American Suntanning Association is a board of indoor tanning retailers who are "dedicated to taking immediate action to correct misconceptions about sunbed salons in the press, the medical community and in state ad federal government bodies," according to the group's website.
Levy said the testimony in support of the legislation demonize UV light. He said that saying people should avoid the UV rays is similar to saying they should avoid water because it causes drowning.
"Sunburn prevention, not sun avoidance, is key," Levy said. "We all need UV light in order to survive."
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website, Sharon Miller, a FDA scientist and international expert on UV radiation and tanning said "a tan is the skin's reaction to exposure to UV rays. Recognizing exposure to the rays as an 'insult,' the skin acts in self-defense by producing more melanin, a pigment that darkens the skin. Over time this damage will lead to prematurely aged skin and, in some cases, skin cancer."
In July of 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Association, concluded that tanning devices are more dangerous than previously thought, according to the FDA website. The IARC concluded that there was evidence of:
Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, proposed a bill that would prohibit children ages six and under from using tanning devices. Any person under six years of age who uses a tanning device or any guardian who knowingly allows his or her child to use a tanning device would be guilty of a class C misdemeanor. Barnes said his bill is intended to protect children from the growth of a public health crisis.
Levy also testified in opposition to that bill, saying it was a frivolous bill because children that young do not tan.
No action was taken on either bill.