Reporting Pat Warren
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Parents who allow their teenagers to use tanning beds could see that option taken away. Some lawmakers want to replace the law that requires parental permission with an outright ban.
Political reporter Pat Warren explains the tanning industry is fighting back.
“I started going with friends after school every single day. It was almost like a competition to see who could get the darkest,” said Rachel, a cancer survivor.
If tanning is a question of health or beauty, the Maryland Senate panel is going for health.
“Lucky for me, my dermatologist detected my cancer at a very early stage,” Rachel said. “So they were able to cut it out of me, and that was that. But when I told her how much I was using tanning beds she freaked out and told me if I ever wanted to live I could never step foot in a tanning bed again.”
Health experts say evidence is mounting that young women in particular are risking their lives in tanning beds.
“The tanning causes cancer. It causes absolutely horrible cancer and people suffer tremendously,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Maryland Health Secretary.
But the Senate committee also heard testimony that such cancers aren’t necessarily the result of tanning beds alone and that salons provide a benefit by regulating exposure to ultraviolet rays.
“I view my role as a mother and a tanning salon operator as almost one and the same. The same passion and care and effort that I put into educating my clients and educating myself for decisions for my son are identical,” said Jessica Hilger, salon owner.
“If we were doing things that were unscrupulous we would be out of business,” said Luke Golueke, salon owner.
Local officials still have the authority to regulate tanning salons in their own jurisdictions.
Howard County was first to implement an outright ban on the use of tanning beds by minors under the age of 18.