Divisive teen tanning ban pits cancer worries against individual freedom

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 | 9:40 a.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — A proposal to limit teen access to tanning beds has divided the Missouri House of Representatives over rival concerns about cancer and government mandates.

Legislation by Rep. Gary Cross, R-Lee's Summit, would require parental permission for anyone younger than 18 to use a tanning facility. His bill was amended Tuesday by Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, to also forbid anyone younger than 15 from using tanning equipment.

Supporters cited concerns that excessive tanning causes cancer. But some other Republicans said the bill represents excessive government intrusion on individual freedoms.

The legislation was set aside Tuesday without receiving a vote.

More than 30 states have laws requiring parental consent for teens to use tanning beds and more than 10 states forbid tanning beds for teenagers of certain ages.

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Donna Regen April 4, 2012 | 2:17 p.m.

It is difficult to understand why Missouri is having problems with this legislation. I would hope Missouri lawmakers would care more about the health and safety of your children than about protecting a business that sells a carcinogenic product (UV radiation) to them. As a mom who has lost a child to melanoma because of her tanning habit, I would think this would be a no-brainer. If anything, I would hope the people of Missouri would be demanding even stronger restrictions like a total ban on minors using tanning beds, like for buying tobacco and alcohol. There is no good reason that a minor needs to use a tanning bed!

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