California may ban minors from tanning beds

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    By Sara Payne

    California, a state notorious for beautiful, bronzed bodies, may pass a bill banning minors from enhancing their golden glows.

    The bill, sponsored by the California Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, would prohibit residents 18 years and younger from using any tanning devices without written consent from a physician. Tanning companies could incur a maximum $2,500 penalty per day for violation of this law.

    If the bill is passed, California will be the first state to ban minors from such use.

    Dragan Vasic, owner of San Diego”s Platinum Tan, said he refuses to allow his business to suffer in the hands of the government.

    “The government can do whatever they want to take money from the owners” pocketbooks; that”s their deal,” Vasic said. “We”ll find some other way to stay in business.”

    Vasic said although minors account for only about 5 percent of business, this law would further restrict teenagers” freedom.

    “[This bill] is taking rights away from minors,” Vasic said. “It”s like they have to take everything away … saying they [minors] can”t do anything except stay home and do nothing.”

    The California Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery cited increased risk of skin cancer as their primary reason for proposing the bill.

    Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, according to the authors of the bill. An estimated 88,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma this year – 7,400 of those cases ending in death. At this rate, one person dies of melanoma every hour, the bill”s authors said.

    Although junior Alexis Hawkes, a music major from Poway, Calif., admitted to tanning before high school dances, she said this bill isn”t so terrible.

    “I think [the bill] is good just because girls can [tan] too much and fry themselves,” Hawkes said. “Tanning isn”t that good anyway.”

    California”s current law requires tanning salons to post a warning sign and have customers sign a written statement acknowledging they understand the warning. Customers between the ages of 14 and 18 must have a written consent form signed by a legal guardian.

    Hawkes said she was not aware that consent is required before a minor can use tanning equipment.

    Vasic said attitudes like Hawkes” would be just as relaxed if the bill is passed.

    “[This bill] is not going to keep minors from tanning,” Vasic said. “Minors will just come in and say they”re 18. What do they expect me to do – ID them before they tan?”

    Twenty-six states already have laws requiring parental permission before minors may use artificial tanning salons.

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