CLEARFIELD -- If he were king for a day, Davis County Health Director Lewis R. Garrett would ban anyone under age 18 from using tanning beds because of the health risks.
Instead, Garrett is willing to work through the system and intends to be actively involved during the 2012 legislative session in an attempt to put more restrictions on teens visiting tanning salons.
Garrett said part of that effort will include a push to revisit a 2006 county health policy in which parents are required to accompany their teens to the tanning salon.
That policy, which experienced some push-back from the public concerned with parental rights, was supplanted by a 2007 state law requiring minors to bring a parental consent form when visiting tanning salons.
Garrett recently told the Davis Board of Health that, during the next few months, he will speak with Sen. Patricia Jones, D-Salt Lake City, about getting the legislation needed to beef up restrictions.
Garrett's re-emphasized effort comes on the heels of the recent release of a 20-year cancer study conducted by Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University that revealed the risk of life-threatening skin cancer increases with the frequency of tanning bed use, particularly with high school and college-age students.
The study shows that every four tanning bed sessions increases the risk of basal and squamous cell carcinoma by 15 percent and increases the risk of melanoma by 11 percent.
"That is a measurably higher risk than what was suspected," Garrett said.
Further restrictions that could be enacted include increasing the fines for those tanning salon businesses allowing youths to tan without the required parental consent form, Garrett said.
The county health department could also begin conducting undercover stings on tanning salons, similar to the way it checks stores to ensure they are not selling tobacco products to minors, he said.
Garrett appears to have the support of his public health colleagues.
"We need to be tough in protecting the young people," said Davis Health Board member Ron Garrison.
"I would recommend a pretty strong approach to this," said Ben Tanner, Davis Health Board member and former board chairman.
Tanner said he would support a complete ban on youths using tanning beds.
"The health issue gets put on the back burner," he said.
However, health board member Dr. Warren Butler said the state should consider adopting a tanning-bed test, similar to what is done when teens apply for a driver's license, so youths are made aware of the principles behind the regulations.
The test would also prevent parents from routinely signing off on the consent forms, he said.
Davis County Commissioner Bret Millburn said there may be a need to educate those who operate tanning salons.
"There is a reality there," he said.
Davis County has 21 permitted tanning bed salons in operation, said health officials.
Currently, 30 states have complete bans on youths using tanning beds, said Brent Petersen, Davis Health Board chairman.