Heard in committee: pros, cons of indoor tanning ban for those under 18

TRENTON – The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Services Committee heard testimony Thursday from supporters and opponents of a bill that would ban individuals under age 18 from using indoor tanning facilities.

Committee Chairwoman Sen. Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), of Teaneck said she learned her dermatologist told her he is seeing younger and younger patients suffering from melanoma, largely due to exposure from indoor tanning beds and sunshine.

Jennifer Sullivan of the American Cancer Society supports the bill, S2119, saying the bill could go a long way in preventing teens from being exposed to “cancer-causing ultraviolet rays” that indoor tanning beds emit.

Dr. Robert M. Paull, an Edison-based skin doctor and a board member of the Dermatological Society of New Jersey, said the bill would help raise caution about the dangers tanning beds pose.

“Just like cigarettes do not cause lung cancer in everyone , tanning beds will not cause skin cancer in all who use them. However, I urge you to think of the countless patients I treat every day who tell me they regret using indoor tanning beds when they were teenagers and have suffered from skin cancer as a result, and would have benefited from the protection a law such as S2119 would create.”

The Indoor Tanning Association, however, said it opposes the bill because New Jersey already has some of the strictest tanning laws.

In a March interview with State Street Wire, Executive Director John Overstreet said such a law would take away a segment of their clients.

The state charges a 7 percent sales tax, on top of the 10 percent federal excise tax for tanning services, he said.

“There is absolutely no reason for parents who approve of their kids to receive a suntan cannot receive a suntan,” Overstreet said at the time. “This (proposed law) could seriously hurt the industry in the state.”

Some lawmakers like Sens. Robert Gordon, (D-38), Bergen, and Jim Whelan, (D-2), Atlantic City asked why have more tanning regulations, given that the state already prohibits use of indoor tanning beds for kids 14 and under, and requires parental consent for those between ages 15 and 18.

Whelan likened the bill to anti-smoking laws, which some teens routinely break.

While her bill was only discussed today, Weinberg said she hopes a vote on S2119 is taken soon.

  Heard in committee: pros, cons of indoor tanning ban for those under 18