When teens decide to lay on a tanning bed, do they really know what they're getting themselves into?
Democratic Senator Bethany Hall-Long of Middletown, says young people need to be made aware of indoor tanning's dangers and that's why she is sponsoring a bill to make it illegal for a teen to tan in a commercial salon without parental permission.
The bill is being called the Michelle Rigney Act. Rigney was a college student who died last year from skin cancer caused by indoor tanning according to Delmarvanow.com.
The dangers from exposure to UV rays from artificial sources of light, such as tanning beds and sunlamps, are similar to the dangers of exposure to sunlight according to the Food and Drug administration.
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Most of the more than one million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed yearly in the United States are considered to be sun-related. Over 10,000 people die from skin cancer each year, says the American Cancer Society.
Joshua L. Fox, M.D., a dermatologist in Fresh Meadows, N.Y., told the FDA, "Continued use of a tanning bed or sunlamp can be quite dangerous, particularly during the teen-age years." Teens are at greater risk, he says, because they are still experiencing tremendous growth at the cellular level, and, like other cells in the body, the skin cells are dividing more rapidly than they do during adulthood.
"There is no such thing as a safe tan," he says. "Just one sunburn increases your risk for skin cancer."
The Indoor Tanning Association, which promotes the $5 billion industry in the U.S. and represents some 20,000 tanning salons is opposed to this bill.
Association Executive Director John Overstreet says tanning beds are safe for minors.
Besides, he says, getting a tan indoors can be safer than burning on the beach. “It’s a lot easier to get a sunburn when you’re outside. In a tanning salon, you know exactly what you’re getting,” Overstreet told macon.com. He also said he would allow his 16-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son to tan indoors.
If the Delaware legislation is made law it would require parents of teens age 14 to 18 years old, to sign an annual consent form, and a doctor's approval for anyone under 14.