NC legislators consider raising legal tanning age - | WBTV Charlotte

NC legislators consider raising legal tanning age

A tanning bed is displayed in a Greenville salon. (File/FOX Carolina) A tanning bed is displayed in a Greenville salon. (File/FOX Carolina)

Some North Carolina legislators say young people should be barred from getting bronzed with tanning beds because their risks for cancer are too great.

A House committee considered a bill Tuesday to prohibit tanning salons from having customers under the age of 18. Current law prohibits anyone 13 or younger from using salon equipment unless a doctor gives the child a written prescription. Children 14 to 17 must have a parent's permission.

The bill has the weight of several medical and cancer-prevention groups behind it. Dermatologist Dr. Kelly Nelson with Duke University Medical Center told the committee she's seen too many women with melanoma and other skin cancers that used tanning beds as teenagers.

The Centers for Disease Control points to tanning as the skin's response to UVA and UVB ray damage, and that people who use tanning beds before they're 35 have a 75 percent higher risk of getting melanoma.

Some people in North Carolina think that whether teens should tan, should be a call that parents, not legislators make.

Breanna Long at Electric Beach tanning in Hendersonville said she used to tan as a teen, but only before prom. She thinks tanning is OK for older teens as long as they don't "go overboard with it."

"If you watch what you do as far as you limit yourself and don't get burnt, you're not going to have a problem with it. The more times you get burnt, the higher your risks are for getting skin cancer," said Long.

Burns are a major indicator of skin cancer sensitivity, according to the CDC, but the UVA and UVB rays can be damage enough.

A vote was delayed after a spokesman for an industry-funded institute argued that bill supporters were misinforming lawmakers.

So far, teens under 18 have only been banned from using tanning beds in Vermont and California. Eight other states have introduced similar legislation this year.

Copyright 2013 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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