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Health Advocates Want to Bar Kids from Using Tanning Beds [AUDIO]

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Health organizations are calling on the Assembly to pass a bill that would ban the use of indoor tanning beds by anyone under the age of 18. The State Senate has already passed its version of the measure. If the Assembly does not pass it Monday it will die with the end of this legislative session and have to be re-introduced and sent through the committee process again in both houses. The bill is not yet on the Assembly’s board list for Monday.

“Indoor tanning totally is unnecessary and potentially deadly,” says Blair Horner, vice president with the American Cancer Society. “In their quest for a glowing tan teenagers are increasing their risk of skin cancer. This is about kids being exposed to a carcinogen that may cost them their lives.”

21-year-old Allison Gough of Middletown who says she started using tanning beds when she was 14 was diagnosed with melanoma last year. She is almost nine months cancer-free. Allison says, “Tanning beds are not safe for anyone, let alone kids and I have the scars to prove this……….I thought I was invincible.”

California is the only state in the nation to already have a tan ban in effect for those under 18. Under current New Jersey law, teens 14-17 can use a tanning bed with parental permission. Almost two years ago the Federal Trade Commission forced the indoor tanning industry to stop making health claims in their advertisements.

Ms. Gough says, “I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma and every day I have to look at the scars that cover my body and I have to remember that tanning caused it….It was something that I chose to do and now I have to live with it. I live in fear every day.”

Allison says education doesn’t work. She talks to teens often about the dangers of tanning beds and says, “Despite the fact that I’ve given them evidence (and) proof, I have told them my story. I have shown them my scars and I have shown them pictures from the operating room, which were my last resort to just scare everyone. They don’t listen and they just continue tanning……As much as you can be educated and I was educated, people just do it anyway because no one thinks it’s going to happen to them. No one ever thinks that and I was one of those people.”

Those opposed to the ban believe it would hurt business.

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