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Legislature Revisits Tanning Bed Ban for Minors

The Iowa Legislature again is discussing banning use of indoor tanning beds by minors. (jdurham/morguefile)
The Iowa Legislature again is discussing banning use of indoor tanning beds by minors. (jdurham/morguefile)
February 29, 2016

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Iowa Senate passed legislation last year that would ban anyone 18 years of age and younger from going to a tanning salon and using an indoor tanning bed.

The bill stalled in the House, with some lawmakers saying parental choice should be respected. A similar bill was introduced in the Iowa House this year (HB 420), making the ban only for those age 17 and younger.

Dr. Vincent Reid, oncologist of Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, says indoor tanning is far more dangerous than simply getting exposure to the sun, particularly among younger people.

"People who have been exposed to indoor tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma, which is the more serious of the various types of skin cancer, than those who have never tanned," he says. "And this risk is particularly more prominent when you have been exposed to tanning starting in the adolescent age."

Reid notes more than half of U.S. college students say they have done indoor tanning, and the cumulative effects of this exposure over time can lead to health issues.

Some lawmakers believe the new bill stands a better chance of passage, since it only now bans minors from using tanning salons.

Reid says there is a great deal of misinformation about indoor tanning. One popular misconception is it is safer than exposure to the sun.

"There are two types of UV light that you usually use inside, and this is called UVA and UVB, and without getting too much into that, people who support and promote indoor tanning have suggested that may be safer," says Reid. "But the medical data does not support that; the medical data actually shows the converse."

He says data shows more young women than men use indoor tanning, often in advance of a special event such as high school prom. Iowa is one of only eight states that currently allow minors to use indoor tanning devices.

Jeff Stein, Public News Service - IA