South Carolina could be next state to ban minors from using tanning beds

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Some lawmakers and dermatologists say something needs to change in South Carolina.

As skin cancer rates continue to rise and tanning bed usage among 12th graders is higher than the national average, there’s a push to keep minors out of tanning beds.

Dr. Ann Harriott Ervin is a board-certified dermatologist and said, “Every day we see patients in here with skin cancer and many of them are due to tanning beds.”

She said, rays from tanning beds are more concentrated and penetrate deeper than the sun’s rays.

“If you’ve tanned in a tanning bed one time before 35, then your chances of getting carcinoma, or melanoma are 70 percent higher if you had not done indoor tanning,” she said.

The Teen Skin Cancer Prevention Act (H. 3807) would prohibit minors from using tanning beds or any other indoor tanning equipment. Locations could face fines for letting minors use their equipment.

Opponents of the legislation say it would hurt small, local tanning salons.

Supporters of the bill say this legislation could save lives.

Right now in South Carolina, minors are allowed to use tanning beds with parent or guardian permission.

Beth Johnson with the American Cancer Society said, “If a product is labeled with parental consent we typically think that’s safe. We know that’s not the case with tanning.”

Lawmakers cite a survey that says 22% of 12th graders in South Carolina say they have used a tanning bed at least once in the last 12 months. That’s 6% higher than the national average.

Johnson said, “Tobacco and UV rays found in tanning beds are on the same carcinogenic level. That means they are causing cancer at the same rate. We don’t allow our kids to smoke then why are we allowing them to use tanning beds.”

Dermatologists recommend using spray tanning products or other forms of sunless tanning.

The Teen Skin Cancer Prevention Act was given a favorable vote in committee. The legislation is waiting to be debated on the House floor.

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