Cheh introduces legislation prohibiting minors from using tanning beds in the District

Bill aims to reduce the risk of young people developing skin cancer.

Washington, D.C. – Today, Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) introduced legislation that would prohibit all minors from using tanning beds at commercial tanning salons. California, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont have already passed similar legislation. Currently, District law only prohibits children under the age of 14 from using tanning beds, and children between the ages of 14 and 17 may use tanning beds with parental consent. Cheh’s legislation aims to reduce the deadly side effects children can experience later in life due to using 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.”

“Research, shows that sunlamps and tanning beds emit UVA radiation that can be more than 10 to 15 times more powerful than the sun’s rays,” said Cheh. “Individuals, who first use a tanning bed before age 35, are 75 percent more likely to develop melanoma. 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. And even with efforts to inform minors of these risks, studies have shown that greater knowledge of the dangers of tanning does not change behavior. That is why it is imperative we pass legislation banning this practice – a practice that can prove fatal.”

Ultraviolet radiation (“UVR”) emitted by the sun and artificial light sources has long been linked to skin cancers, such as melanoma. Rates of melanoma have been increasing for the past 30 years, particularly among young people. Of the seven most common forms of cancers in the US, melanoma is the only one whose incidence is increasing. For women in their 20s, it is the second most common form of cancer; for men in their 20s, it is the third most common. Once melanoma metastasizes, it is almost certainly fatal. There are no successful treatment options for metastatic melanoma, making prevention critical.

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