Lawmakers push ban on teen tanning

OLYMPIA -- Tanning beds are just as dangerous as smoking and drinking alcohol is to teens, some state legislators in Olympia said Monday.

Now, lawmakers are pushing to ban minors from what they say is a dangerous practice.

State senator Curtis King, R-Yakima, said like smoking, young teens don't usually recognize the long-term effects of their actions. He backs a Senate Bill banning indoor tanning for those under 18 years old.

“We have children that will go into these tanning booths time after time after time and say it doesn’t affect me," King said. "But when they get to be 28,30 years old, it does affect them.”

A recent Center for Disease control study shows more than 25 percent of all teenage girls use indoor tanning booths. The FDA said their risk of developing melanoma, a dangerous skin cancer, is 75 percent higher than those who don’t.

Still, only 10 of other states have banned teen tanning. Washington is pushing new ground. King and Senator Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, are just two of several lawmakers pushing the bill.

"Why would we put young woman without the information at risk of forming a deadly melanoma as law exists now in our state?" she asked.

In a hearing in Olympia, young women who spent their teen years tanning spoke in support of the proposed law.

"I'm 22 years old and I was diagnosed with melanoma this past March and that is why this bill is very important to my heart," Jessica Hewlett said. "I started tanning my freshman year in high school."

The bill would also impose a fine on salons caught violating the law.

But many tanning salon owners said the bill oversteps reasonable bounds. Debra Haynie, the owner of Copperzone Tanning Salon, said her customers already practice "safe tanning."

"I think tanning responsibility is a lot better than those at home beds they could go out and get with no regulation," Haynie said. "Or someone going out and spending two hours in the sun trying to get that perfect glow."

The senate has until Feb. 22 to push the bill through.

By Kate Burgess 

Q13 FOX News