Banning teens at tanning salons

By Meredith Witthar

The bill to ban indoor tanning for anyone under 18 was never heard by the Arizona Legislature, but before the bill died the PIN Bureau asked voters nationwide to share their thoughts on indoor tanning for teenagers. We received responses from across the country on different sides of this issue, including those who attribute the death of loved ones to tanning-related cancers.

Peggy Alteri’s daughter, Tricia, was diagnosed with stage two melanoma in 2003. Alteri said that Tricia noticed a small spot on her back that was the size of a pencil eraser.

“The doctor told us at that point that she believed it was caused by indoor tanning,” Alteri said.

Then in June of 2007 Tricia’s cancer progressed to stage four.

“[She] married the love of her life July 7, 2007, and died October 21, 2007,” Alteri said.

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Tricia on her wedding day. She died three months later. (Photo courtesy of Peggy Alteri)

Before Tricia died, Alteri says, she begged her family to warn other people about indoor tanning.

“I thought it was just skin cancer…you could just cut it out,” Alteri remembers her saying.  “But I’m dying from it and people need to know.“

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are 11 states that have banned the use of tanning devices by anyone under 18, and 41 states have some regulations for minors who are indoor tanning.

Arizona Representative Heather Carter, who sponsored the tanning bill in this year, introduced a similar bill in 2013. That bill was held in committee. However, this year’s bill was introduced after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s new requirements for manufacturers of sunlamp products to issue stronger warnings for users under 18.

In responses to our PIN query, several respondents suggested that parents should take responsibility for decisions about tanning.

Rebecca Connelly from Ohio said that tanning legislation won’t keep children away from the sun, and she emphasized that parents and kids should make their own decisions when it comes to indoor tanning.

Jim Palmer says that his doctor prescribed his child use a sun bed for his eczema.

“Salons should be required to have parental consent before their teen/child uses services,” Palmer wrote. “Freedoms and rights should never be taken away from parents.”

The American Academy of Dermatology Association has supported restrictions of indoor tanning. The organization points out a difference between phototherapy devices used in medical offices to treat skin conditions and the type of beds used in tanning salons.

There are reports that the debate on indoor tanning in Arizona will not end this year. The issue may have another chance at a debate in the Arizona Legislature in 2016.

To share your perspectives on indoor tanning, click here.

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