Bill aims to ban use of tanning beds by Indiana teens

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A new bill aims to make it illegal for Hoosier teens to use tanning beds, even with permission from their parents. Proponents of the bill said the goal is to stop the progression of Melanoma caused by excessive tanning.

FOX59 spoke to a Melanoma survivor who said if this law were in place, she may not have gotten cancer at a young age. Katie Love said she began tanning when she was just 13. She said her mom would take her to tanning salons once or twice a week.

"I just wanted to feel and look pretty and that’s what I thought would help make that happen," Love said.

When she was a senior in high school, she was diagnosed with Melanoma. She said it first started with a questionable spot on her skin. Her dermatologist then was forced to remove the spot, plus about four inches of skin on her left leg.

Senate Bill 209 would ban the use of tanning beds in Indiana for anyone under 18. As the law stands currently, those 15 and under cannot use tanning beds, while 16 and 17-year-olds need parental permission.

The bill would get rid of the "gap" in ages and ban tanning beds for anyone who is not a legal adult.

The bill would also require salons to ask for an ID and refuse service to anyone under the age of 18. Bryan Hannon, Director of Indiana Government Relations for the American Cancer Society, said the age gap doesn't have medical or scientific backing.

"Skin cancer rates are on the rise, including Melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer," Hannon said. He added, "we've seen a 68 percent increase in those rates in Indiana over the last decade."

Hannon does argue there is proof that tanning at a young age increases the chances of getting Melanoma.

The American Suntanning Association opposes the bill. In a letter to Indiana lawmakers, they argue the concerns for cancer come from unregulated tanning beds, like ones purchased for homes.

The organization stated:

  • Forty-one percent of all tanning today occurs at non-salon locations. This bill would only increase that number.
  • 16 to 17-year-old clients represent approximately five percent of the salon business.
  • A ban would drive clients to uncontrolled home sun beds.

Click here for more on cancer prevention and awareness from The American Cancer Society.