BOISE, Idaho -- Concerns about industry regulation and usurping parental control scuttled legislation intended to reduce skin cancer rates in Idaho.
On a 5-3 vote Thursday, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee killed a bill that would have prohibited children 15 and younger from using commercial tanning beds. Children 16 to 18 would require parental consent.
"This is almost identical to the law we have in place for tattooing only tattoos don't cause cancer," said House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, who sponsored the bill.
Idaho has the highest rate of melanoma skin cancer deaths in the country. Rusche said regulating underage tanning bed use could save seven to 10 lives per year.
Several medical associations spoke in favor of the legislation, including the Idaho Medical Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the Idaho Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians.
Dr. Steven Mings, representing the Idaho Dermatology Society, said several factors increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer, including genetics, elevation, sun exposure and ultraviolet light exposure from tanning beds. Some of those sources can be controlled, while others can't.
"I'm here because the science is strong with this bill," he said. "As a society, I totally agree we need to do education -- and we are, we're bending over backwards. But we're falling short with regard to melanoma."
Sharee Skinner with Southern Exposure Tanning Centre in Nampa said 20 to 25 percent of her business came from teens 18 and younger.
Southern Exposure already requires parental consent forms for teens and won't allow kids younger than 13 to use the tanning beds, Skinner said. She was concerned this bill would simply shift customers from her regulated tanning salon to unregulated businesses like gyms or hair salons.
"This is a great overreach of government," she said.
Joseph Levy with the International Smart Tan Network industry trade group also spoke in opposition to the measure.
The committee asked a number of questions, but didn't discuss the bill. Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, supported the bill; Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, opposed it.
(c)2012 the Lewiston Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho)
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