Health & Family

Dermatologists support law to ban on tanning beds for minors

North Carolina dermatologists are urging the General Assembly to pass legislation that would prohibit teens younger than 18 from using tanning beds.

As legislators return to Raleigh this week, Dr. Elizabeth Rostan said Friday that she and other dermatologists hope the Senate will pass the bill that was OK’d by the House of Representative last year by a vote of 94-22.

“We know that even one visit to the tanning bed can increase your risk of skin cancer. And each additional visit to the tanning bed can increase it even more,” said Rostan, owner of Charlotte Skin & Laser.

In the midst of prom and graduation season, as many teens seek artificial tans, Rostan said lawmakers should ban them from tanning beds “just like we protect them from alcohol and tobacco. ... It’s a major public health issue. ... I see every day young women coming in with a diagnosis of skin cancer and melanoma.”

Eight states prohibit minors from using tanning beds.

Similar legislation has been opposed by the American Suntanning Association, a group of tanning salon owners whose website says they are “dedicated to taking immediate action to correct misconceptions about sunbed salons in the press, the medical community and in state and federal government bodies.” A spokesman for the group could not be reached for comment Friday.

Anne Bowman, a Charlotte mother of three, was diagnosed with melanoma in 2010 when she was 32. Surgery to remove the tumor left a six-inch scar on her lower back and ever-present fear that the cancer will return.

“I know first hand that tanning bends are dangerous, said Bowman, who used tanning beds about 20 times as a teen in Richmond, Va. “We know our teenagers are putting themselves at risk every day. It’s imperative that our legislators pass this bill to ban minors from tanning ... so that they’re not ending up like I did.”