By MIKE BOCK
ANNAPOLIS (January 27, 2012)—A group of lawmakers wants to expand on current restrictions and place an outright ban on the use of artificial tanning beds for anyone under 18.
SB 213, introduced this month, is intended to cut back on the use of UV-based tanning beds, which are linked to cancer. Maryland law since 2008 says that minors can use artificial tanning beds with parental permission.
Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, said a ban on tanning beds would be comparable to banning tobacco products for minors, since both are linked to cancer. As of 2009, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies both as Class 1 carcinogens.
Delegate Kirill Reznik, D-Montgomery, said the law is meant to improve health for minors and encourage healthier alternatives, like spray tanning or going outside.
"The reality is, we're not banning the ability to tan," said Reznik, who cross-filed the bill in the House of Delegates on Wednesday.
Although the ban has been proposed in previous years, it failed to get enough support.
House Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, who served on the House Economic Matters Committee that voted against the ban last year, said the measures in place are already enough to discourage minors from artificial tanning, and that education can have a better impact on discouraging cancer-linked activities than an outright ban.
"We felt the decision was best left to parents and minors," said Haddaway-Riccio.
Tanning salon workers agree.
"It's an option that should be open to parents," said Joe Singer, an employee of Sun Deck, a tanning salon in Annapolis.
Singer said that Sun Deck wouldn't be affected financially by the ban - he estimates that the salon gets less than 10 customers under 18 per year.
Singer said that an outright ban wouldn't be fair to teenagers who need artificial tanning for medical uses, or for one-time users.
"You do it in moderation ... you do it for about 15 minutes, and it makes you happy," Singer said.
California passed a bill in October banning minors from tanning salons, and 30 other states currently limit minors' access to tanning beds, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislators. Howard County is the only jurisdiction in Maryland to ban minors from tanning, with special exemptions granted for minors with medical permission.