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General assembly

Bill banning youths from tanning beds clears Senate

– The Indiana Senate voted 30-17 Thursday to ban the use of commercial tanning beds for people younger than 16.

Senate Bill 50 now moves to the House.

Under current law, those under 18 can tan with parental permission. The proposed legislation would bar ultraviolet tanning for anyone younger than 16. Teens who are 16 and 17 could still tan with parental permission.

The measure also requires the Indiana State Department of Health to adopt standards concerning the use of tanning devices in Indiana.

Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, the author of the bill, said the radiation emitted from the tanning beds is 10 to 15 times more powerful than the midday sun. And she said the risk of skin cancer is high for young adults who tan.

“This is very important for our young adults,” she said, noting the American Suntanning Association representing the industry agreed to the prohibition.

Several senators voted no based on concern that the state shouldn’t be making decisions for parents.

“So the state of Indiana knows better?” asked Sen. Jim Smith, R-Charlestown.

He also pointed out that while the state regulates the use of tobacco and alcohol by youth at all times, tanning would still be legal in private homes.

“This bill is literally a slippery slope,” Smith said. “Apparently the parents of our Hoosiers cannot educate themselves and make those decisions for those under 16.”

Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, said young people exposed to tanning have developed melanoma at an incredible rate.

He said that’s why the American Cancer Society and World Health Organization have categorized radiation from tanning as a Level 1 carcinogen.

Stoops said he would prefer the bill go further and ban tanning for anyone under 18.

“Once they’re 18, they are free to get cancer however they want,” he said.

Northeast Indiana senators in support were Sen. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange; Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn; Sen. David Long, R-Fort Wayne; and Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne. Two others – Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, and Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, voted no.