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Government and Politics


Ohio could become the third state to ban indoor tanning for minors
Conservative GOP sponsor says he respects parents' rights and small business, but the medical evidence is clear
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
Ohio could become the third state to ban indoor tanning for minors.
Courtesy of Some rights reserved: Evil Erin, flickr
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In The Region:

For the second time, Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban indoor tanning for anyone under 18 – even if their parents say it’s OK. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports, the debate over a ban is heating up.

LISTEN: Abbreviated Kasler on tanning bill

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LISTEN: Extended, Kasler on tanning bill

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Doctors have warned for years that indoor tanning can damage skin and eyes, and can cause premature aging, allergic reactions and skin cancer. But there’s another perspective on indoor tanning that’s coming to light in debate over an outright ban for minors – that of the owners and users of tanning salons. 

“I just have a hard time with … not having a balanced approach,” says Dan Caskey, who owns 11 tanning salons in Ohio. He and other owners say the ban could cost them up to 15 percent of their business – older teens and those under 16 who have their parents’ permission.

Drinking, smoking and tanning
The ban’s sponsor is Republican Rep. Terry Johnson, who’s also a doctor in southern Ohio. He co-sponsored a ban that failed to get voted out of committee two years ago. If it had become law, Ohio would have beat California to become the first state to ban indoor tanning for minors. Johnson wants it to pass this time. 

“We certainly don’t want our kids drinking hard liquor, so we don’t let them do that. We don’t want our kids smoking cigarettes, so we don’t let them do that.”

That argument angers the indoor-tanning industry. Salon owners say the discussion should be about avoiding sunburns and using sunscreen, not about avoiding tans altogether. Joseph Levy is with the Indoor Tanning Association, and he says studies show vitamin D deficiencies are developing because people don’t understand that UV ray exposure is important.

“Proponents (of the ban) have told you that this is tobacco. And that‘s absolutely ludicrous. That’s why I have a problem with this.”

Levy also says a tan can boost the protection that sunscreen offers.

‘Solid research’ says otherwise
But Johnson says, as a doctor, he can’t ignore what he feels is solid medical research

“I look at the same data that the tanning bed industry looks at, and I say there’s danger here and I don’t think people are well-enough informed about tanning. I think we need to protect our kids in Ohio, and this is one way to do it.”

Johnson says he isn’t proposing a total ban. Kids with prescriptions to tan could still do so. But salon owners say they fear kids who still want to tan will seek out tanning beds in homes with no licenses or safety regulations.

Don’t tred on me
And some tanning salon patrons say they feel the ban tramples on their rights. Susan Newton of Dublin says she’s made an educated choice to allow her teenage kids to go tanning. 

“As a parent, I would like the ability to continue to make those choices.”

Johnson says he’s sympathetic to opponents’ concerns. But he says public safety overrides them.

“I’m very sensitive about small business;  I’m a very conservative person. I’m also very concerned about parental rights;  I want to be able to make decisions about my kids. On the other hand, there’s some mitigating circumstances.”

Ohio is one of 31 states considering new rules on tanning for kids under 18. Two states -- California and Vermont -- have now banned indoor tanning for minors.

Listener Comments:

Regulate it more. Less time and fewer days. Parent has to be with them. All in moderation. Parents are allowed to drop children off at a near by pool for an entire day, and allow that child to be exposed to extreme sun without any sun protection, I believe that any burning is what may be causing all the damage. There are a lot of people that have had skin cancer and never have used a tanning bed. People that have used a tanning bed and now have skin cancer, we should look at why, were they tanning at a pool all day and also using a tanning bed to even out tanning lines, Or going to 2 different tanning salons in one day? A young person wouldn't know that playing volleyball out in the hot sun all day and then visiting a tanning bed. This is where the parents should take control.


Posted by: Debra (Hilliard) on November 6, 2013 7:11AM
Comparing tanning to cigarettes is very misleading. The facts are that moderate, controlled tanning has many benefits and there are thousands of articles and books written on the subject by people with no ties to the tanning industry. I have never seen anyone one say that moderate smoking has many health benefits. So if this is enacted will they now be checking ID's at the beach or pool? Ban teens from working outdoors in the summer? Parental consent is as far as this should go. Anything more is government overeach and could set a precedent for many more bans (fast food, sugary snacks, energy drinks, etc etc)


Posted by: Glen on June 25, 2013 10:06AM
It might add additional value to the story to note the following things: Nevada, Oregon, and Texas each passed U-18 indoor tanning bans this session, and will take effect September 1, January 1 (2014), and October 1 respectively.

Mr Levy has made a name for himself, traveling and testifying in opposition to indoor tanning bills like what is in Ohio and his testimony has been repeatedly refuted successfully by the facts. Those who have followed the tobacco trials are seeing similar tactics used by the indoor tanning lobby to try to misinform the public of the perceived "non-risks" posed by tanning. The reality is this: the FTC already fined the ITA in 2010 for making false medical claims of what indoor tanning devices offer.

Legislation is still pending in Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Pennsylvania as well.


Posted by: jack (chicago) on June 24, 2013 12:06PM
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