WHAT OTHERS SAY: Regulating tanning beds is a public health issue

Monday, March 17, 2014 | 1:39 p.m. CDT

Parental consent, public health, business burdens and intrusive government all are being crammed into the same tanning bed.

It’s an uncomfortable fit, largely a result of lawmakers losing focus on what the proposal is all about.

Last week, the Missouri House approved a bill to require parental approval for youths younger than 17 to use tanning beds.

The House voted 98-46 to advance the bill to the Senate. A division among Republican votes illustrates the differing priorities among members of the GOP majority.

The dissension seems to arise because the measure would punish not the children or parents, but tanning salons. Businesses that allow underage youths to tan without parental consent would face a $500 fine.

Rep. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, opposed the bill, contending voters elected him because: “They wanted less government and they wanted me to stop government intrusion in their business and in their workplace.”

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Gary Cross, R-Lee’s Summit, countered: “It’s not about regulating people. It is about protecting our young, innocent youth.”

Proponents say the measure would help protect children from exposure to ultraviolet rays that may cause skin cancer.

The tanning bed proposal is similar to public health laws that prohibit alcohol and tobacco sales to youths below a specified age.

It differs, however, because it is not a blanket prohibition. Underage youths with parental permission still may use tanning beds.

We view the tanning bed measure as a public health issue. It preserves parental consent and is less egregious to businesses than an outright prohibition.

We know, from science and experience, that children do not have the same decision-making ability as adults. That’s why some laws are age-specific. Add tanning bed restrictions to that age-specific group.

Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission.

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John Schultz March 18, 2014 | 10:39 a.m.

I guess we better mandate sun block usage for those under 18, just in case they dare to lay out in a chaise lounge to get a tan the old-fashioned way?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 18, 2014 | 12:18 p.m.

The legislature should have adjourned to Rolla last Saturday. For the first time in several years the Saint Patrick's Parade was held on a perfect day (temperature, sun, lack of wind).

After the parade, students were hauling their chairs, sofas (typically beaten up and moth eaten), even dining tables, out of fraternity and sorority* houses or rental units to the outside and were sprawled on them - comatose - "catching rays."

*- Yes, there are sororities (~25% of the student body is female, average these days for both private and public technology institutes).

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