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Bill would ban minors from using tanning beds


 By MIKE BOCK Capital News Service

Published 01/30/12

A group of lawmakers wants to expand current restrictions and place an outright ban on the use of artificial tanning beds by anyone under 18.

Del. Kirill Reznik, D-Montgomery, said the bill is meant to improve health for minors and encourage healthier alternatives, like spray tanning or going outside.

"The reality is, we're not banning the ability to tan," said Reznik, who cross-filed the bill in the House of Delegates on Wednesday.

Although the ban has been proposed in previous years, it failed to get enough support to pass the legislature.

House Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, R-Middle Shore, who served on the House Economic Matters Committee that voted against the ban last year, said the measures in place are already enough to discourage minors from artificial tanning, and that education can do more to discourage cancer-linked activities than an outright ban.

"We felt the decision was best left to parents and minors," said Haddaway-Riccio.

Tanning salon workers agree.

"It's an option that should be open to parents," said Joe Singer, an employee of Sun Deck, a tanning salon in Annapolis.

Singer said that Sun Deck wouldn't be affected financially by the ban. He estimates that the salon gets fewer than 10 customers under 18 per year.

He said that an outright ban wouldn't be fair to teenagers who need artificial tanning for medical reasons, or for one-time users.

"You do it in moderation … you do it for about 15 minutes, and it makes you happy," Singer said.

California passed a law in October banning minors from tanning salons, and 30 other states currently limit minors' access to tanning beds, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislators. Howard County is the only jurisdiction in Maryland to ban minors from tanning, with special exemptions granted for minors who have medical permission.

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