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Lawmakers look to ban teen tanning

Lawmakers look to ban teen tanning

(Columbus) - Once again state lawmakers in Ohio want to make it illegal for anyone under 18 to use tanning beds.

The legislation would only allow minors to tan with a doctor's permission. For parents like Susan Newton of Dublin the bigger issue is taking away her right to decide what's best for her children.

"As a parent I would like the ability to continue to make those choices for my children and I would imagine that other parents would appreciate that ability as well," she told lawmakers during a hearing on the bill.

The bill would punish the tanning salons and not the teens for violation of the law. Owners would face fines up to $1,500 and could have their license revoked. In severe cases violations could end with two months in jail.

The issue is skin cancer. Opponents of tanning beds say they're a major contributor to skin cancer and the biggest issues are found in people who start tanning early.

According to data from the American Cancer Society, skin cancer cases have risen from 500,000 to 1.2 million each year over the last 20 years. Melanoma is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women between the ages of 25-29. Women between the ages of 30-34 die from melanoma more often than other forms of cancer, with the exception of breast cancer. For men between the ages of 20-29, melanoma is the most deadly form of cancer.

Tanning bed operators argue that they operate responsibly and aren't out to simply make a buck while putting people at risk.

"People are naturally drawn to the sun. With today's lifestyles we have a lot less time to be outside," said Daniel Caskey, a Cincinnati man who operates 11 Palm Beach Tan locations in Ohio.

He says teens make up about 10 to 15 percent of their revenue.

"I believe that it would actually increase sun burn incidents in Ohio and definitely harm legitimate businesses," he said.

Caskey says that's because tanning beds allow users to develop a base tan and avoid burning.

This is the third time the bill has come up in recent years at the Ohio Statehouse.

The bill's sponsors, including State Rep. Terry Johnson (R-Portsmouth) - a doctor - think this is a matter of public safety.

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