Bill would ban teens from using tanning beds


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WICHITA, Kan. -- Spring is almost here.

For some, it's the perfect time to get a head start on their tan. A new Kansas House bill, however, may prevent teenagers from getting a bronzed look.

Kansas lawmakers are looking at barring people under 18 from using a tanning bed. Businesses that allow minors to use their tanning beds could be fined $250 for each violation.

"It is sad that they have to be a certain age and if the parent wants them to tan and is OK with them tanning, then why can't they go ahead and let them do that?" asked Rose Andrews, owner of Caribbean Sun Tanning in Andover.

CHALLENGING PARENTAL RIGHTS

Current law allows minors to use tanning beds with parental approval. Andrews said the law, which changed a little more than three years ago, gave parents rights to control the situation. She believes parents should be responsible -- not lawmakers.

In the bill, lawmakers say several health experts say tanning at a younger age is risky. The ultraviolet light exposure "during childhood and teenage years results in a higher risk of developing cancer as an adult, with an increased risk of malignant melanomas before the age of 35," it states.

The bill, however, does allow teenagers use a tanning bed with doctor's approval. Andrews said that tanning can have its risks with overexposure, but when regulated, it can be beneficial.

"It can help with acne," she said. "To me, vitamin D is the best thing you can get and if you have it in a control environment. It helps you."

BENEFITING FROM A BAN

While this proposal may post a few challenges for existing salons, it may provide opportunities for other businesses.

"I think it's great for the sunless tanning industry, and it's nice that it's promoting healthier tanning," she said. "I've had a lot of clients come in with their daughters, saying they wish they had this option growing up.

Kody Jolly-Vanderhoofven has been in the spray-tan business for more than 10 years. She currently owns Sunscape Sunless Tanning in Wichita. She said as research shows the harmful effects of sun exposure, many people are opting for spray tans.

For this reason, Andrews said she's not worried about the future of her business. It also offers spray-tan options, so her clients will be able to achieve the look they want.

"They're going to want to be tan regardless," Jolly-Vanderhoofven said. "They're going to figure out a way to get tan. I think with the sunless tanning industry now, and with the product being perfected, there's a great alternative for it."

On Wednesday, the bill was re-referred to the Kansas House Committee on Health and Human Services.


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