Teen Tanning Ban Approved in NJ Assembly [AUDIO]
On Thursday, the full New Jersey Assembly voted in favor of a bill that would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to use a tanning bed, regardless of whether they have obtained parental permission. The measure has been sailing through the lower house since a Nutley mother was accused of taking her then five year old daughter into a tanning booth, where the kindergartner allegedly sustained serious burns.
Assembly Democrat Ralph Caputo said the incident involving the Nutley woman underscores the need for the legislation.
"It shows the addiction that people have for this type of activity," Caputo said. "Even though that young girl may not have been in a tanning booth, it does bring about the potential danger of having a child in that environment."
Assembly Democrat Pamela Lampitt, whose family was affected by melanoma, said skin cancer is a forever-growing issue.
"What we know about youth is that their bodies are still growing, and they're still forming, and if they are overexposed to certain elements, it can harm them," she said.
According to a recent American Cancer Society study, the rate of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has increased 43% over the last decade. That spike has coincided with a boom in the indoor tanning industry.
The bill would allow teens 14 years of age and older, with written permission, to use spray tanning, which does not expose them to UV radiation. Current law allows minors between ages 14 and 18 to use any type of tanning facility with written authorization from a parent or guardian.
Opponents of the measure said it is an overreach of government.
"It would definitely cripple my business and other salons in New Jersey," explained James Oliver, CEO of Beach Bum Tanning with 19 locations in the Garden State. "It would be viewed as something unsafe, and we don't feel that way.
Oliver said if done correctly and moderately, tanning can be perfectly acceptable for those under 18 years old.
In addition, Oliver said the legislation strips the right of parents to make decisions for their own children.
With a ban on indoor tanning, according to Oliver, youth would instead be laying in the sun outdoors, most likely without any supervision. He said his business provides plenty of supervision for customers, and a computer system tracks everyone's progress and time exposure.
The legislation has not yet been considered by a Senate Committee.
Currently, Vermont and California are the only two states with a full tanning booth ban for individuals under the age of 18.
BEYOND THE BOOTH
As we kick off Memorial Day Weekend, MoleSafe's Dr. Richard Bezozo released some tips for safe sun exposure that can help prevent you and your loved ones from developing skin cancer.
· Apply sunscreen about 15 to 30 minutes before kids go outside so that a good layer of protection can form.
· Apply about one ounce of sunscreen in order to thoroughly cover all of your exposed skin.
· Reapply sunscreen often, approximately every 2 hours. Reapply after a child has been sweating or swimming.
· The sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. It's best to limit your direct exposure between those times.
· Apply a lip balm that offers SPF protection and reapply throughout the day.
· Choose wrap-around sunglasses that absorb at least 99% of UV rays to protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes.
· Wear light, breathable clothing.
· Choose a sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection.
· Babies under 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight and layered lightly with clothing.
. Use extra caution near water and sand, as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
· Perform skin self-exams regularly to become familiar with existing growths and to notice any changes or new growths.
· Check the daily UV index; the higher the number, the greater the need for eye and skin protection.
· Wear sunscreen under your clothing - a basic T-shirt only provides protection equal to SPF 5-8.
Kevin McArdle contributed to this report.