PROVO — Minors would be forbidden to use tanning beds under a measure a Utah lawmaker plans to introduce at the upcoming session.
Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, told Provo's Daily Herald that a 4-year-old state law requiring parental consent isn't enough to protect Utah's youth from the health risks of tanning booths.
"We protect our children from alcohol and tobacco, which are also harmful, so why not damaging UV rays?" she said. "UV radiation in a tanning bed is 10 to 15 times stronger than the rays from the midday sun. It is harmful for everyone, but especially for younger people."
The current law requires parents to sign a consent form once a year for those under 18 to use tanning beds. The form lists the dangers of exposure to ultraviolet radiation and specifies the number of times a teen can tan per year.
But Jones, the law's author, said it didn't go far enough.
"Tanning beds are a known carcinogen; they have been proven to cause cancer," she said. "Bottom line for me is, this is preventable."
Some tanning salon operators said they don't see the need for the new law.
"There is already regulation in place. Parents have to sign a form, and then we keep that form on hand," said Emily Thompson, manager at Gold'N'Glow tanning in Provo. "Parents can regulate the amount of time teens tan for, and we don't allow them to go any longer."
Thomson said not everyone uses tanning beds to get color. Many teens tan on the recommendation of their dermatologist to help prevent acne or as a way to treat depression, she said.
Dr. Joseph Miner, executive director of the Utah County Health Department, said he's in full support of Jones' legislation.