- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Before Jay Farley died from melanoma last year at the age of 30, he asked his parents to educate others about the dangers of using a tanning bed, which doctors linked to his cancer.

Gary and Brenda Farley of Danville are now urging New Hampshire lawmakers to pass a bill that would ban anyone under 18 from using tanning beds; 11 other states and the District of Columbia have similar bans.

The bill received unanimous support from a House committee that took testimony from the Farleys and others, and the full chamber is to vote on the measure Wednesday. A similar effort failed last year.

The Farleys said doctors linked their son’s melanoma to his overuse of tanning beds, which he started at age 16. The skin cancer had advanced so far doctors discovered 12 inoperable tumors on his brain and a tumor on his lung.

“We need to better protect children, we absolutely have to,” Brenda Farley said. “Once you have melanoma, there is no turning back.”

New Hampshire law now bans tanning for anyone under 14 unless ordered by a doctor and requires parental approval for anyone under 18. The law says parents must re-sign paperwork allowing their child to tan every 12 visits.

The proposed ban would prohibit anyone under 18 from using a tanning bed unless approved by a medical professional.

Opponents of the proposal say the process already appropriately involves parents in making decisions about their children’s health. But supporters say the negative health risks of tanning are so substantial that minors should be banned from doing it.

Data from the World Health Organization shows that using a tanning bed under the age of 30 increases the risk of melanoma by 75 percent.

“If I sign for my 17-year-old to go tanning, that’s not making the tan safer - it’s still a deadly tan,” Brenda Farley said in a recent telephone interview.

Employees at Tanorama and Turbo Tan in Concord said minors make up a relatively small part of the business and sometimes come in to tan alongside their parents. Teens should be allowed to make their own decisions about tanning, said Kaite McClellan at Turbo Tan.

“They shouldn’t outlaw something just because they think it’s wrong,” she said.

Alicia Fernandez, a Tanorama employee, said she began tanning when she was 16 and doesn’t think banning the practice until the age of 18 will make a significant difference for people who plan to tan later in life anyway.

“I don’t really think it’s necessary,” she said.

But Rep. John Fothergill, a Colebrook Republican on the committee that took testimony on the bill, said the state has a role to play in keeping young people safe. Without an outright ban, parents could be asked to make decisions about something they are not fully informed about or feel pressure from their children, he said.

“I think the majority of parents know that they need to pick their fights with their children and this is one way that the state can help them,” he said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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