D.C. Council member Mary Cheh introduced a bill that would prohibit juveniles under the age of 17 from using tanning beds at commercial tanning salons.
Current D.C. law only prohibits children under the age of 14 from using tanning beds, while children between the ages of 14 and 17 may use tanning beds with parental permission.
Ward 3 Council member Cheh intends to reduce the dangerous side effects of high ultraviolet radiation that can occur later in life to children who use tanning beds at an early age.
"This legislation protects a vulnerable demographic from life-threatening health effects," said Cheh. "It also reflects the District’s awareness that a child’s behavior now can have very serious repercussions well into their adulthoods."
Ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun and artificial light sources has often been linked to skin cancers, such as melanoma. The rates of melanoma have been rising for at least 30 years, according to the American Cancer Society. For women in their 20s it is the second most common form of cancer, according to Cheh's press release.
Research shows the tanning beds and sun lamps emit ultraviolet radiation that can be 10 to 15 times more powerful than sunlight, Cheh said. It’s more dangerous for people under the age of 35 to use tanning beds, she said, increasing their chances of developing melanoma by 75 percent.
"Despite the great risk tanning carries for young people, tanning salons actively target minors in their advertising, offering inexpensive packages and highlighting the cosmetic benefits of tanning," Cheh said. "That is why it is imperative we pass legislation banning this practice – a practice that can prove fatal."
California, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Vermont have already passed legislation banning all minors from using tanning beds.