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Medical Group Wants Legislators To Keep Teens Away From Tanning Beds

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — If the holiday season inspires your teen to head to the tanning salon, take note. The Maryland State Medical Society is asking the General Assembly to keep the under-18s out of tanning beds.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains previous efforts to ban those tans have failed.

The artificial light of a tanning bed led to their darkest hours. Heidi Edmonds and Jane Shapiro testified to that in Annapolis last year.

“We grew up going to the beach, going to the tanning salons to get a base tan,” said Edmonds.

“I’ve got a hole in my scalp under my hair that you can’t see, that had to be closed with a skin graft ’cause that’s where my primary melanoma site was,” said Shapiro.

“The teenagers say they want to look tan and pretty, and I did, too,” said Edmonds.

“I also have a scar that starts just below my clavicle and curves up around behind my ear,” said Shapiro.

“I remember telling someone back then, you know, I’d rather die looking good. And believe me, as I got wheeled into my surgery 20 years later, those words were loud and clear in my head,” said Edmonds.

The Maryland State Medical Society is asking the General Assembly to ban the tans for people under 18.

Dr. Lawrence Greene says most people are unaware of the risks.

“It’s one of those issues that many people don’t know—not just the children, parents don’t know the dangers associated with indoor tanning beds,” Greene said.

He cites studies that estimate a 75 percent increased risk of melanoma in those who started tanning before age 35.

“It’s our job as physicians to save people’s skins, me as a dermatologist to save someone’s skin,” Greene said. “We’re not just interested in how you look right now; we want you to have safe, good skin for your whole life.”

State law requires parental consent to use a tanning bed if you’re under 18. The industry has argued that’s regulation enough. Up to now, the General Assembly has agreed.

Howard County has a local ban on use of tanning beds by minors. The state of California has also banned their use for teens.

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