Oregon Senate takes up teen indoor tanning ban

SALEM, Ore. - Oregon lawmakers are considering banning children younger than 18 from using tanning beds.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a hearing Tuesday afternoon on HB 2896, which has already passed in the Oregon House.

Bailey Cooper is 16 years old and says she goes tanning every week. She doesn't think the proposed ban is a good idea.

"I feel that wouldn't really be a good idea because if kids can't tan at a tanning salon they'll just - there's multiple people who have tanning beds at their house and they'll come here where it's not regulated," Cooper said.

At salons like Tan Republic, anyone younger than 18 needs permission from a parent or guardian to tan.

"We have a certified skin specialist there and they get skin-typed," said salon franchise owner Lance Donnelly. "Skin-typed is a state requirement by the state of Oregon."

Donnelly believes the bill would make tanning more dangerous for teens.

"When a teen comes and they're going in someone's garage and somebody's house and tanning for long periods of time in an uncontrolled environment, this bill is actually doing a disservice to Oregon."

Supporters argue a ban is necessary to keep kids safe, especially in the state with the highest cancer rates in the country.

"We've seen an increased number of young women particularly getting skin cancer and the most deadly kind, which is melanoma, and we know that anybody under 18 can be particularly risk-taking," said Dr. Brian Druker, director of the Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU.

Druker said using tanning beds early in life can increase a child's cancer risk by 75 percent. He also says about 40 percent of children ages 16-18 currently use tanning beds. He believes that number will drop significantly if the bill becomes law.