Banning Indoor Tanning For Minors In NJ On The Front Burner [POLL]
Unless you've been living under a rock recently you know about the New Jersey mother accused of taking her then 5-year-old daughter into a tanning booth last month where the kindergartener allegedly sustained serious burns.
The so-called tanoholic mom was even parodied during a sketch on Saturday Night Live this past weekend. Health advocates and others are now pushing for action on a bill in the New Jersey legislature that would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to use an indoor tanning facility.
According to a new American Cancer Society (ACS) study the rate of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer has increased 43% over the last decade which coincides with a boom in the indoor tanning industry. The International Agency for Research on Cancer places tanning beds in the highest cancer risk category (group 1) and calls them 'carcinogenic to humans.'
Aly Dougherty, a 27-year-old stage 3 melanoma survivor knows firsthand the pain and suffering indoor tanning can cause. She explains, "Tanning beds are not safe for anyone, let alone kids and I have the scars to prove this. When I was a teenager I used indoor tanning often before proms and other events. I thought I was invincible. Little did I know that I would be diagnosed with skin cancer years later."
In July, Aly will be 6-years cancer-free.
"As a 21-year-old, you're forced into thinking; am I going to die? I mean what's going to happen here," says Aly. "Why isn't anyone being protected against tanning? I went tanning. I got melanoma, but now I ask; when is this going to stop?"
In an oddly ironic twist, Aly is from Nutley as is Patricia Krentcil who was charged last month in North Jersey with child endangerment. Police say the Krentcil, whose skin is bronze-colored from her regular tanning salon visits, took her daughter into a tanning booth. The girl was 5 at the time but has since turned 6. Police say they were alerted by the kindergartener's school in Nutley because the girl was in pain from a sunburn.
Krentcil has pleaded not guilty. She says her daughter's burn came from the sun on an unusually warm April day and that she would never take the girl into a tanning booth.
New Jersey already bans anyone under the age of 14 from using indoor tanning. Adding further irony, when former Governor Jon Corzine signed that bill into law, he did it in Nutley. Those 14-18 must have parental permission. Last year a bill to ban indoor tanning by all minors was passed in the State Senate, but failed to make it through the full Assembly. Currently Vermont and California are only two states with such a ban. In the indoor tanning industry argues a ban like this in New Jersey could seriously hurt business.
Assemblyman Herb Conaway who sponsors the indoor tanning ban for minors bill says government restricts the use of alcohol and tobacco by minors because they pose a health threat. He says tanning beds pose a threat too.
Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi has signed on as a co-sponsor of Conaway's bill.
She says, "When I was a teenager I oftentimes used tanning beds. At the time they were marketed as the 'safe alternative to the sun.' Before such events as the prom, homecoming and spring break my girlfriends and I spent hours at the tanning salons. Never did I expect that from using tanning beds I would be diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of malignant melanoma at the age of 25."