Michigan bill could ban minors from using tanning beds

Michigan could see ban on indoor tanning for teens if legislation passes in Lansing

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan could ban indoor tanning in minors if new legislation introduced on Wednesday passes in Lansing.

House Bills 4404 and 4405, introduced by state Representative Jim Townsend, aims to protect teens and children from the increased risk of cancer linked to tanning beds.

Physicians with the Michigan State Medical Society joined young cancer patients and advocates in asking the state to approve the package of bills.

"Indoor tanning has been directly linked with a dramatically increased risk of skin cancers especially for girls who start tanning at a young age," said Dr .Kay Watnick, an Oakland County dermatologist supporting the ban."Using a tanning bed is particularly dangerous for younger users. We have a responsibility to protect our children and we encourage lawmakers to pass these potentially life-saving reforms as soon as possible." Read: Mom put 5-year-old in tanning bed

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, people who tan indoors at a young age, have a 75 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Melanoma is the number one cancer killer of young women nationwide. Indoor tanning has also been directly linked with ocular melanoma, or cancer of the eye.

"We cannot turn a blind eye while our daughters and sons, nieces and nephews, and friends are put at such a terrifying risk of cancer," said Representative Townsend, sponsor of the bills. "The CDC, Michigan physicians and cancer patients themselves have sounded the alarm about the deadly risks of indoor tanning.  It is time we listen and put the lives of our young people first."

Supports of the ban say 13 percent of high school students admit to using indoor tanning facilities and 32 percent of girls in grade 12 use tanning beds regularly.

MORE: Debunking 5 common sunscreen myths.

Anne Goulet was diagnosed with melanoma in August 2010. She began tanning indoors when she was a freshman in high school and tanned regularly until college. 

"If I hadn't started tanning as a teenager I likely never would have gotten cancer," said Goulet. "I hope now that my story can help girls across the state understand the risks of indoor tanning.  I hope the legislature will listen, too, and pass these bills soon to help save lives."

In addition to the Michigan State Medical Society, the bills are supported by the Michigan Dermatological Society and the American Cancer Society Action Network.

More on the story:

Wednesday on Local 4 News at 6 pm meet a teenager who contracted skin cancer from tanning. Hear what she thinks about the proposed legislation and the message she'd like to share with teenagers who are looking to "fake bake."

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