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A minor tanning problem

Louisiana bans minors from using tanning beds

By Nia Porter
On May 2, 2014

  • My last name is Bullington, guys.. Theresa Bullington

If a new tanning bed ban makes its way through the Senate in upcoming months, minors in Louisiana may be forced to seek alternatives for tan skin.
The Louisiana House Health Care Committee overwhelmingly backed the bill, written by Rep. Helena Moreno, on March 12 after Moreno assured the bill would lower the risk of skin cancer from the ultraviolet radiation associated with tanning lamps and beds.
"It was absolutely clear to me then that Louisiana needs legislation like this so we can prevent cancer cases," Moreno said to the committee.
Under Louisiana's current law, minors aged 14 to 18 can only use indoor tanning facilities if they get a written statement from their parents saying they understand the risks and give their consent.
Moreno said she introduced the bill to ban minors from tanning beds altogether after consulting with dermatologists and reviewing data about the negative effects these indoor tanning beds have on minors.
Mara Haseltine M.D., president of the Louisiana Dermatological Society and one of the dermatologists who helped Moreno draft the bill, said that she had made it her mission to put an end to underage tanning in 2014.
"Six states have already passed this ban, and I thought it was an exciting goal. It was kind of like a bucket list thing for me to do this year; to protect our children in Louisiana and be among the first 10 states to do so," Haseltine said.
Haseltine said she is excited about the support of the bill throughout Louisiana's House of Representatives.
"I approached Moreno, who'd kind of heard through the grapevine that a group of dermatologists wanted to help author the bill, and she readily agreed," Haseltine said. "I brought her all the data, we got some melanoma survivors to come and testify and it worked out pretty great."
For Melanie Potter, mass communication junior and Life and Times editor at The Maroon, tanning beds have been a part of her life since she was in high school.
"I started tanning when I was 16," Potter said. "I just wanted to look tan and nice for the prom, but after I started going, I kind of got addicted to it and then I couldn't stop."
Although she said she has cut back on her trips to the tanning bed, the topic of underage tanning still hits pretty close to home.
"I have 17-year-old twin sisters and one of them actually just started tanning to also get ready for the prom," said Potter. "So, I think it's also going to be a vicious cycle. She thinks she's just doing it to get ready for prom, but I know that she's going to get addicted to it."
According to Haseltine, a one-time exposure to an indoor tanning lamp can increase your melanoma risk by 60 percent.
"The earlier you start, the harder it is to quit," Haseltine said. "The more you use indoor tanning beds when you're younger, you're just more susceptible because your skin is still growing."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


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