New Bill Allows No Tanning Salon Use for Minors Under 14

Legislation in Virginia's House of Delegates could prevent teens under 15 from using indoor tanning salons and require those older to get parental permission.

By Allison Landry, Capital News Service

 Sen. Charles J. Colgan of Manassas and Manassas Park voted for a bill that, if passed, would no longer permit Virginians under age 15  to use indoor tanning salons.

The Senate recently approved Senate Bill 1274, which would prohibit individuals 14 and younger  “to use a tanning device at a tanning facility.”

It would also require 15 to 17-year-olds to get parental or guardian consent before visiting a tanning parlor, with the exception of  emancipated minors –teenagers who are legally adults because of a court order, marriage or military service.

The bill could become law, pending the outcome of a House vote. It is waiting to be reviewed in the House Committee on Commerce and Labor. 

“The goal is to try to reduce incidents of cancer, which is a significant issue particularly for children and adolescents who use tanning beds,” Sen. George Barker (D-Alexandria) said. “Tanning beds have clearly been shown to contribute to cancer, and children and adolescents are the ones that are most vulnerable to that.”

Taylor Marrow and Emma O’Brien, students at Centreville High School in Fairfax County, brought the issue to Barker’s attention and helped write the legislation. They testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.

“Through our research, we found that tanning is not only a carcinogen, but it is also particularly damaging to children and their development,” O’Brien said.

After winning an endorsement from the committee, SB 1274 passed the Senate on a 34-5 vote last week.

The Virginia Department of Health’s indoor tanning regulations have not been updated since 2007. A number of tanning regulation bills were introduced in the General Assembly in recent years, but none have passed.

The existing law does not explicitly restrict minors 15 and older from using a tanning salon. It says only that customers under 15 must get written permission from a parent or legal guardian every six months.

“I feel that this law is a waste of time and there are bigger things that need to be addressed,” said Dan Shorkey, owner of Fan Tan in Richmond.

Shorkey said his customer base includes mostly Virginia Commonwealth University students, not high school students. However, he said, tanning salons near high schools might run into trouble because they may serve a younger demographic.

There is one tanning salon in Manassas Park—Sunbright Tanning in a shopping center at Manassas and Andrew Drives. The owner of Sunbright, Roger Yelvington, also owns an Anytime Fitness franchise in the same shopping center.

Randy Raggio, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Richmond, said the legislation could give teenagers and their parents second thoughts about the safety of tanning.

“Anytime you attach a safety concern to a product or service, it may cause people to think twice about it,” Raggio said. “So it could have an overall effect on the demand for tanning services.”

California, Vermont and Illinois are among states that have recently passed laws to restrict minors from visiting indoor tanning salons.

For example, California banned teens under 18 from indoor tanning. Virginia is unlikely to go that far, state officials say.

To many people, other environmental health concerns in Virginia that take precedence over tanning, said Gary Hagy, director of food and environmental health at the Virginia Department of Health.

“There is only so much you can do to protect the youth of an area,” he said. For Virginia, “indoor tanning is not as much of an environmental threat as it might be for California.”

Research into the health risks of indoor tanning has prompted states to restrict tanning, said Samantha Guild, president and founder of AIM at Melanoma, a cancer research organization.

“There are a lot more findings from scientific studies that show there is clearly a link between indoor tanning beds and melanoma and other skin cancers,” she said. “There is also a lot more public awareness about the dangers. The general public is urging that legislators bring this issue up.”

How They Voted

Passed Senate (34-Y 5-N)

YEAS – Alexander, Barker, Black, Blevins, Carrico, Colgan, Deeds, Ebbin, Edwards, Favola, Garrett, Hanger, Herring, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Marsh, McEachin, Miller, Newman, Norment, Northam, Petersen, Puckett, Puller, Reeves, Ruff, Saslaw, Smith, Stanley, Stosch, Stuart, Watkins – 34.

NAYS – Martin, McDougle, McWaters, Obenshain, Wagner – 5.

NOT VOTING – Vogel – 1.


Jaimes_mom February 12, 2013 at 07:44 PM
Unfortunately, this bill only protects those children 14 and under. If VA legislators truly believe that tanning bed use is dangerous for adolescents, then shouldn't all adolescents (under 18) be covered by this bill. Parental consent does not work, as many moms take their teens with them to tan and obviously do not understand the risks. And Mr Hagy's comments make no sense. The tanning beds in VA are just as hazardous as the ones in CA ... but it seems CA cares more about their youngsters. Please contact your state House reps and urge them to amend this bill to cover all minors under 18. No tan is worth dying for!
Lauren Buck February 14, 2013 at 01:54 AM
I’m curious how much research they actually did. Tanning doesn’t cause Melanoma. Recent studies have shown that exposure to the UV lights cuts your risk of getting Melanoma. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22017922 This is due to the Vitamin D that your body produces once its exposed to UV lights. Yes, tanning beds are on the list of known carcinogens but, so is the sun as well as leather and wood dust! There are far more important issues they should be focusing on, not if my child is allowed to go in a tanning bed if they are under a certain age. When will people realize using a tanning bed in moderation, it’s actually good for your health. More than 95% of the US and Canadian population is vitamin D deficient and a big reason for this is because of the sun scare campaign created by sunscreen companies and dermatologists. It’s come to my attention dermatologists, sun screen companies and Government are no longer looking out for our best interests, it’s more how it benefits them. Tanning beds were created to mimic the sun and it does just that BUT it’s a much more controlled environment, especially in a tanning salon. Dermatologists use the exact same bulbs in their offices to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis. The only difference between the dermatologist’s office and a tanning salon is that the dermatologist purposely burns you to treat the disease which does indeed increase your risk for skin cancer.
Jaimes_mom February 14, 2013 at 02:26 AM
Lauren, I too question how much research they did ... because if they had, they would want all their children protected by this bill and not just a portion. You are correct that Vitamin D is important to our bodies and health, and that can be obtained through supplements and diet instead of risking your life in a tanning bed. The UV radiation of tanning beds can and does cause skin cancer. The FTC has ordered the indoor tanning industry NOT to say that tanning beds are in any way healthy including the Vitamin D propaganda. And as far as which side benefits financially, I don't suppose the $5 billion indoor tanning industry is concerned about losing any revenue. I don't think it is the health of our children that they are concerned about. Tanning beds do not mimic the sun and can actually provide 12 times more intense UV radiation than the sun. Dermatologists are medical professionals dealing with skin conditions, and last I checked, tanning bed attendants are not. But I imagine you know all this because I'm guessing you own a tanning salon. I hope this bill fails and they come back with one that will protect all of VA's children from this dangerous recreational activity.
Bloomie February 14, 2013 at 03:10 AM
I would think kids would be better off drinking more milk to get their Vitamin D.


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