- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A complete ban on children under 18 using tanning beds in North Carolina is heading to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk after years of discussion at the legislature.

Only two senators voted Wednesday against the ban, which McCrory’s office said later Wednesday he would sign into law. The House approved the bill in March. Physician groups and cancer prevention and child safety advocacy organizations have pushed for the prohibition, by citing evidence linking tanning sessions to increased risks of skin cancer like melanoma.

Current rules require parental permission for children ages 14 to 17 to use a bed and a doctor’s written prescription for those 13 and under.

“Despite the documented risks, use of indoor tanning among high school aged girls is extremely high,” said Christine Weason with the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, which “strongly encourages the governor to sign this bill into law as soon as possible.” The ban wouldn’t take effect until Oct. 1.

Eleven other states already have an under-18 prohibition on tanning bed use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Senate had been the obstacle to passage. Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union, who shepherded the bill through the chamber, said this week the bill made it through the chamber after colleagues were persuaded by growing scientific data.

Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, cast the lone no votes. Apodaca said on the floor he voted no solely on the belief that parents should have the right to make a decision about tanning beds for their children.

The legislation is named in memory of the late Rep. Jim Fulghum, R-Wake, who died last year. He was a primary sponsor of the similar 2013 bill.

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