N.C. Bans Tanning Beds For Teens

Health care officials are applauding last week’s ratification of a North Carolina legislative bill — the Jim Fulghum Teen Skin Cancer Prevention Act — completely banning all use of tanning beds by minors under the age of 18. 

Under current law, parental permission is required for children ages 14 to 17 to use a bed and a doctor’s written prescription for those 13 and younger.

The House signed off on the legislation in April with a 103-to-12 vote. Only two senators voted against the ban Wednesday. The bill was ratified Thursday, leaving it on the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory to await his signature. 

With Gov. McCrory’s approval, North Carolina joins California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Vermont and Washington — according to the National Conference of State Legislatures — that have passed legislation banning tanning bed usage for children under the age of 18. 

Crystal Page, owner of Cami Cates Salon in Dunn, does not expect her business to be affected, but has concerns for what alternatives teens will seek.

“I really don’t think it’s going to hurt me — I only have about 10 to 15 of the under 18s,” said Ms. Page. “The only thing is, they are going to go out and find a home tanning bed and abuse it.”

She explained that tanning bed operators carefully monitor the time spent in the beds, limiting UV exposure. She fears unsupervised teens will spend too much time in home equipment, putting themselves at more of a risk.

“It should be the parents’ discretion if a child should tan or not,” she added. “It should not be the state’s discretion.”

The effort to restrict all tanning bed use for minors in North Carolina started in the 2013-14 legislative season with House Bill 18 — the Youth Skin Cancer Prevention Act.

This year’s measure was named in memory of the late Rep. Jim Fulghum, of Wake County, a brain surgeon who helped sponsor the 2013 measure. 

This ban is supported by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, N.C. Advisory Committee on Cancer Coordination and Control, N.C. Child Fatality Task Force, N.C. Dermatology Association, N.C. Medical Society, N.C. Oncology Association, N.C. Pediatric Society and AIM at Melanoma Foundation.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the incidence of melanoma in the United States is increasing rapidly in children and young adults. Melanoma is now the second most common form of cancer for people aged 15 to 29 years and the most common form of cancer for young adults aged 25 to 29 years. The ACS states adolescents who start indoor tanning before the age of 35 increase their risk of melanoma by 75 percent. Children and teens are particularly at risk to the damages associated with UV radiation and overexposure as their skin is not fully developed and their skin cells are dividing and changing more rapidly than those of adults.

Courtesy The Daily Record