Only weeks after an alarmingly tan New Jersey woman made national headlines after she was accused of taking her young daughter tanning, legislators here in New York are now working on a bill to ban children 16 and younger from using indoor tanning beds.
Right now, indoor tanning is prohibited to children under 14 in New York State, but 14- to 17-year-olds can tan if they have parental permission. Should this legislation become law tanning would be banned entirely for those under 16, even if their parents are OK with it.
The bill would also require 17-year-olds to get parental permission.
“Skin cancer is a very insidious and painful thing,” said Long Island Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, who helped push the bill. “[Tanning] is becoming a popular thing for kids in school and we have to make them aware of the dangers.”
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 2.3 million teens tan indoors in the United States each year.
The American Cancer Society cites exposure to ultraviolet light as a major risk factor for melanoma of the skin. Tanning booth operators counter that indoor tanning can be safe and healthy if used properly.
Nutley, N.J. mom Patricia Krentcil is currently facing a second-degree child endangerment charge after her then-5-year-old daughter showed up to school with a bad sunburn. The child told school officials she got it after her mom took her to a tanning booth.
Krentcil insists that her daughter never stepped inside a booth. Instead, Krentcil maintains that her daughter got burned when playing in a kiddie pool on a sunny day.
When asked if Krentcil’s story helped inspire the tanning bill, Weisenberg demurred.
“No, I think that showed how [tanning] can disfigure you but it didn’t show how it can kill you,” said Weisenberg.
Meanwhile Ashley Engelman, a spokeswoman from the American Cancer Society, suggested otherwise.
“I think it’s safe to say that the story helped generate attention to the dangers of indoor tanning,” said Engelman.
Weisenberg had previously tried to prohibit tanning to anyone under 18 but said the state Senate rejected it.
“We settled for 16 but after doing a little more research we found out how much a problem it really is,” said Weisenberg, whose wife has suffered three bouts with melanoma in the past few years. “The reality is tanning salons are radiating our children.”
The Senate and the Assembly hope to pass the bill before the June 21 end of session, according to the AP. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expect to sign it into law.
Albany wants to tighten piercing rules, too
It’s not just tanning beds.
Legislators both here in New York City and in Albany also want to restrict teenagers’ access to getting a nose ring, a lip ring or even a belly button ring.
New legislation proposed on Wednesday before the City Council would require minors in the five boroughs to get consent from their parents before they get those types of piercings.
The proposition to set an age requirement for body piercings was introduced by Councilmember Peter Vallone. The Queens Councilman said he wants to make the laws for getting a piercing similar to that of getting a tattoo, which underage teens need a parental consent form to do.
“Minors can’t see certain movies without their parents, but for some reason they are allowed to pay a stranger to put a hole in their tongue,” said Vallone. “That’s nuts and needs to be changed.”
A bill similar to Vallone’s was also proposed in the New York state Assembly by Queens Assemblyman Mike Simanowitz. His bill easily passed the Assembly on Wednesday and a similar bill is before the Senate.
Currently minors do not need any permission to receive a body piercing in New York. Vallone said he was concerned about the health effects of getting piercings.