Sun May Set on Indoor Tanning for Minors

Feb 17, 2015

A bill that bans minors from commercial tanning beds due to risk of skin cancer has cleared a committee in the Iowa House, despite objections from a coalition of Republicans on the panel.  

Rep. Ken Rizer, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, says parents should decide whether their 16 or 17 year old can tan since older teens are legally able to participate in other potentially hazardous activities. 

"Within the state of Iowa 16 or 17 year olds can...ride a motorcycle as a licensed operator, they can drive a car, they can fly an airplane, they can hunt, they can marry with parental consent, they can have sex, they can own a gun and they can, even with parental consent, fight for our country," Rizer says. "So I don’t see how tanning is any more dangerous than any of those activities."

Lung cancer survivor Gail Orcutt volunteers with the American Cancer Society and is lobbying lawmakers in support of the bill. Orcutt, a former school teacher, says barring tanning for those under 18 is a child-safety issue.

"We have laws requiring car can't go in and buy cigarettes, and certainly they can't smoke cigarettes before they're 18," Orcutt says. "We need to keep our kids safe and a lot of parents just don't know how dangerous tanning is."

The indoor tanning industry has signaled its support of the ban, since minors make up only a small portion of indoor tanners. 

The teen tanning bed ban is now eligible for debate in the Iowa House. The Iowa Senate Human Resources committee has also passed a similar version of this bill.

The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Academy of Pediatrics all support banning tanning beds for those under 18. 

Currently 9 states, including Minnesota and Illinois, ban minors from commercial tanning. Two other states, Oregon and Washington, allow those under 18 to tan with a prescription.