- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

DENVER (AP) - A complete ban on children in tanning beds won initial approval Thursday in the Colorado Legislature, where a House committee voted 6-5 to support a bill that would bar anyone under 18 from using the devices.

Colorado is of the few states with no limits on underage tanning-bed use, not even a law requiring parental consent. Thirty-one states either limit or bar children from using tanning beds, which are now considered a carcinogen akin to tobacco by major health agencies.

The Colorado bill, which passed on a party-line vote with all Democrats in favor, was strengthened to bar youth tanning even with a doctor’s recommendation. Medical groups testified that dermatologists that prescribe phototherapy don’t send patients to commercial tanning salons.

Lawmakers heard testimony from skin cancer survivors on the need for a full ban on underage tanning.

“I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m still sitting here,” said Angela Oberlin, a Broomfield melanoma survivor who started using tanning beds at age 15.

Only one tanning-bed operator, Colorado’s largest, testified against the ban.

Dwayne Jones of the At The Beach chain of salons said most already require parental permission for underage customers. Banning underage tanning, he said, “usurps what should be a decision made by the parents.”

Health advocates have opposed efforts over the last two years to limit tanning, saying they couldn’t support anything short of an outright ban. The sponsor of the tanning measures, Democratic Rep. Cherylin Peniston, of Westminster, said she believed the time for compromise is over.

“It’s a matter of life and death,” Peniston said.

The ban now awaits a vote in a second House committee before getting a vote by the full House.

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Online:

House Bill 1054: http://bit.ly/1iWTbI3