SPRINGFIELD — State lawmakers are considering banning teens from tanning salons to protect them from skin cancer.

By Mary J. Cristobal

SPRINGFIELD — State lawmakers are considering banning teens from tanning salons to protect them from skin cancer.

A state Senate committee approved a plan this afternoon that would keep anyone under 18 out of a tanning salon. Senate Bill 1329 would prohibit most teens from using tanning beds, even if they have permission from their parents or other adults.

There’s a health argument — that melanoma is among of the most commonly diagnosed cancers among teenagers, according to American Cancer Society.

“Those who use tanning beds before the age of 35 increase their lifetime risk of melanoma by 75 percent,” said Shayne Squires, ACS regional communications manager. “Young individuals shouldn’t be taking that chance with their lives.”

Kathleen Stegle, a skin cancer survivor, spoke in support of the bill to a panel of lawmakers. She said she started using tanning beds when she was about 14.

But like most public policies debated in the statehouse — the question isn’t always black and white — sometimes there are shades of brown.

Tanning salons owners worry their businesses will be burnt if this measures becomes law.

Kristi Gibson, general manager of Sun Room Tanning Salon in Springfield, said that most of her customers are teenagers who tan for their proms, homecoming dances, graduations and vacations.

“If that right is taken away, our busy season may no longer be busy,” she said.

All About You Salon owner Claribel Beck said that tanning is OK as long as it’s done in moderation and under control.

But the East Peoria woman’s words provided little balm for those who want to peel adolescents from tanning lamps.

Studies have found bed tanning to be addictive, Dr. Stephen Stone, of the American Academy of Dermatology, said..

The underage tanning ban still has to win approval in the Senate, then the Illinois House. Tanning supporters are quick to say the proposal is still a long way from becoming law.

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  1. Light therapy can help depression…

    Moderation (or mild use) is key. Scandinavians have, for years, used artificial lighting for "light therapy" to help stave off or manage depression in notoriously sunless seasons. It also helps process sorely needed vitamin D. Using tanning beds for that reason, and in mild doses isn't harmful, it's helpful. Others use tanning beds to help deter burning prior to sun-soaked, and sorely needed hot-weather, winter vacations  – which can be helpful in preventing skin cancer caused by burns. Emphasizing again, mild or moderate use. A tanning-addict promoting a complete ban? Remember prohibition? Alcohol is bad for you, too…if you over-consume. 

    1. While I am not convinced

      While I am not convinced that a ban is the way to go, the light therapy argument is a red herring here. Light therapy relies on visible light, filtering out UV light. Tanning beds rely on high levels of UV radiation, which is harmful to our eyes and skin. One is not more of the other in this case.

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