RI Senate passes bill to ban indoor tanning for minors

The Rhode Island Senate on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, passed a bill that would prevent people 18 years old and under from using tanning facilities across the state, with one lawmaker calling tanning “a public health risk.”

The Rhode Island Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would prevent people 18 years old and under from using tanning facilities across the state, with one lawmaker calling tanning “a public health risk.”

While a law in the Ocean State already requires minors to have written consent from parents to use a tanning facility, the new law would remove that option.

The bill also includes an exemption for minors with a prescription for "ultraviolet radiation treatment."

The legislation was sponsored by Democratic Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin.

“The evidence of the dangers of tanning to young people is just overwhelming,” Goodwin said. “All tanning is skin damage, and even one single tanning session drastically increases a young person’s risk for skin cancer. It’s time to start treating tanning like the public health threat that it really is.”

Goodwin also said data from the Skin Cancer Foundation shows that one tanning session before the age of 35 increases the risk of melanoma by 75 percent.

Meanwhile, another study observed 63 women diagnosed with melanoma before age 30, with 61 of them saying that they had used tanning beds.

“It is irresponsible to allow kids to put their lives at risk so unnecessarily, and this legislation will take that option off the table,” she said. “Besides reducing the opportunities kids have to tan and sending a serious message about the real danger of tanning, delaying their access to tanning facilities until adulthood might help curb the next generation’s appetite for this unhealthy habit throughout their lives.”

Goodwin continued, “There’s no parent permission slip that lets kids buy cigarettes, and for very good reason. There shouldn’t be one for tanning either, for exactly the same reason: cancer. Getting kids past adolescence without these dangerous activities increases the likelihood they will never adopt them as habits, and can make a real difference in the health of the next generation.”

The bill will now go to the House of Representatives, where Democratic State Rep. Mia Ackerman is sponsoring companion legislation.

(NBC 10 News contributed to this report.)

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