Des Moines, Iowa – Teens who are used to getting that bronze look from tanning beds might be out of luck. That’s if a bill passes through the Iowa legislature this session banning minors from tanning salons.
According to the American Cancer Society, the earlier a person is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from artificial tanning, the greater the risk of skin cancer later in life.
At Coral Reef Tanning, and many other tanning salons, the under 18 crowd makes up a significant portion of the business. However, for lawmakers looking to ban them from the tanning beds, that’s the problem. Too many teens are putting themselves at too high a risk.
“You know we don’t let kids under 18 buy cigarettes because of the cancer risk in this is essentially the same thing,” said State Senator Herman Quirmbach.
Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, introduced the bill in the legislature to ban anyone under 18 from tanning — even with parental consent.
He says he introduced the legislation for two reasons. The first: because a dermatologist asked him to.
“The overall goal is to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Dermatologists in Ames have approached me about a year ago and wanted to talk with me about the dangers the scientific research is pretty clear about a high degree of correlation,” he said.
But for tanning salon owners like Danette Murphy, the issue is more about freedom of choice, and limiting government intrusion.
“We basically feel that it should be left up to the parents not up to the government or state or anyone deciding what we can do as business owners because it’s more realistic if the parent’s decision, ” said Murphy.
She says the current law goes far enough. Right now, salons are required to go through all potential risks with new customers.
“We go through that with any new customer that comes in we go through all the guidelines and all the warnings that needs to be gone through by the state,” Murphy said.
But for Senator Quirmbach, the second reason for introducing the bill is also the most personal. He watched a college friend suffer and die from skin cancer.
“A lot of suffering that eventually killed him. So when you trade that off against whatever you think is the value of having a tan midwinter, I think that the trade-off, wel,l I think that’s a trade-off people should think very seriously about before they participate in artificial tanning,” said Quirmbach.
This legislation has passed two Senate committees and will soon head to the Senate floor for debate.