Ore. bill would require doctor's note for tanning teens

Panel passes measure; full House vote next

Bill makes tanning tougher for teens

BEND, Ore. - A bill that has cleared its first hurdle in the Oregon Legislature would make it harder for young teens to get in tanning beds, prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 from tanning without parental and doctor permission.

On Wednesday, a House committee unanimously approved House Bill 2896, sending it on to the full House for a vote.

"You can't simply say that tanning all together, black and white, it isn't good," Bend's Tan Republic owner Joyce Brookman said Wednesday. "There are different levels and different rays. And that's why we carry the nicest on the market."

Brookman isn't pleased with the new bill, and points to Vitamin D intake and skin condition treatment as a big benefit to tanning.

"Whenever my patients want to have a discussion with me about what their tanning salon owner, or friend told them, I have to ask what the other person's background was," said Bend Memorial Clinic dermatologist Dr. Gerald Peters. "I know their intentions are good, but we can harm out children with good intentions."

Peters says he would never send his patients to a tanning salon, noting the dangers of radiation and alternative treatments.

"It's not a popular message," Peters said,  "and I'm sorry, but the truth is, it's a big danger and Vitamin D can be administered in an oral form that is not carcinogenic."

But many salon owners say it should be up to parents, not lawmakers, to decide whether or not their children can take in the fake rays.

"Being a parent myself, if i am giving the go ahead for my daughter at age 16 or so, I think that's my choice," Brookman said.

If people are going to close themselves into a tanning booth, Brookman advises all of her clients to do it in moderation.

"We get doctor's notes quite often, and we have dermatologists who tan with us," Brookman said. "I can see definitely doing it in moderation. Would I ever sit here, and condone coming in, and doing it until it becomes a negative thing? No."

Some salon owners say it's important to get a base tan before a big vacation. But Peters found the advise very dangerous.

"Have you ever heard anyone advocating someone smoke a few cigarettes to reduce lung cancer?" Peters asked. "No."

Doctors and salon owners will be watching the bill very closely, as it makes its way through the Legislature.

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