Utah Senate approves bill restricting minors from tanning beds

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The Utah Senate passed a bill last week restricting minors from using tanning salons unless accompanied by an adult.

Anti-tanning activist Mary Anne Gerber described the meeting in an email as ”┬áincredibly intense.”

Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, said he voted in favor of the bill when it came through the house for the first time because he felt involving an adult in the decision to use a tanning bed offered an extra layer of safety for minors.

“I feel like that is something parents should be involved in,” he said.

Mary Anne Gerber is herself a former tanner and skin cancer survivor.

Addicted at the age of 20, Gerber was 24 when she went to see a dermatologist about having a mole removed from her face that turned out to be cancerous.

Gerber said the shock she experienced was largely a result of her deep association with skin cancer and older men and women who worked jobs such as farming.

“Immediately my doctor asked if I was a tanner,” she said. “I said yes and he said that was the reason I had skin cancer.”

The resulting surgery involved much more than removing a mole but went so far as to remove contaminated lymph nodes from her throat. For two months Gerber was completely bedridden and for a year and a half avoided leaving her house because she felt so disfigured.

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Brandon Bresnan, a recent BYU graduate in graphic design, worked at a tanning salon for nearly three years and reports never having been educated on long-term dangers of tanning.

“I was taught a lot about the short-term precautions like making sure people didn’t burn, that they used the right tanning products and knew how to tan correctly,” Bresnan said in a Facebook message.

Gerber emphasizes, however, that she was always a strict adherent to these rules and never actually burned.

Joe Levy of Smart Tan, a pro-tanning advocacy group supported by over 6,000 tanning salons, argued the idea that tanning is unnatural radiation in an interview with CityViews’ Jennifer Napier-Pearce.

“To say UV light is a carcinogen that should be avoided is an over-simplification as ridiculous as saying water causes drowning and therefore we should avoid water,” he said.

The bill goes on to the house this week.

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