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Oregon lawmakers advance ban on young teen tanning
Skeptical lawmakers weren’t convinced, as one compared him to a tobacco industry lobbyist portrayed as a liar in the movie “Thank You for Smoking,” which makes the case that cigarette-makers pushed a dangerous product without acknowledging associated health risks. Another legislator flatly accused Ley of twisting facts.
“I think I heard you say that since water is safe, you can’t drown,” Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, said to Levy during the recent committee hearing.
A Republican sponsor of the bill said he doesn’t typically support “nanny-state” legislation but in this case the statistics linking cancer rates to indoor tanning convinced him it’s the right thing to do.
“The evidence is compelling and clear,” said. Rep. Mark Johnson of Hood River. “It’s not intended to be overly intrusive into people’s behaviors.”
During the debate lawmakers cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing that Oregon women diagnosed with melanoma have the highest death in the nation.
Opponents, however, say many salon operators already have rules in place that make such laws unnecessary. The provisions will become little more than a drag on local economies, they say.
Mitch Teal, owner of Bronze Planet tanning salons in the Salem, Ore., area, says his salons require minors to have parental permission to use tanning beds and that if a ban passes the effect “is going to be fewer customers,” Teal said.
“And that is going to mean less ability for small business to expand, less ability to hire new employees,” he added.
Teal said about 4 percent of his clients are younger than 18. “Very few businesses can absorb a 4 percent hit,” he said.
The Oregon proposal, he said, would represent a second blow to the industry following the “tanning tax” provision of the federal Affordable Care Act, which requires salons to impose a 10 percent levy on ultraviolet ray sessions.
Statistics show that about 13 percent of high school students use tanning salons, according to the CDC. Among female 12th-graders, that number rises to 32 percent.
“Most girls go to tanning beds in high school for proms and winter formals,” said Angie Herriges, an aesthetician in The Dalles, Ore. “They want to be tan. That’s why I did it.”
She, like Donnar, was diagnosed with skin cancer after tanning as teenager and continuing to visit sun booths throughout her 20s.
Herriges said doctors told her she had basal cell carcinoma in her mid-30s. She has since recovered and sworn off sun lamps _ but not bronzing. She now operates a spray tan booth, which she says is a safe way for the industry to mitigate expected losses if the bans become law.
Dr. Bud Pierce, president of the Oregon Medical Association, agrees that sprays are a safe way to simulate the effect of sun rays, adding that ultraviolet lamps are not _ ever.
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