The House Health and Human Services Committee voted 9-8 Monday to send a bill that would prohibit indoor tanning for minors to the rest of the chamber after some representatives raised concerns it would interfere with parental choice.
House Bill 2369 would prevent tanning salons from allowing people younger than 18 to use their tanning beds, with a $250 fine for each violation.
Rep. Brett Hildabrand, a Republican from Shawnee, likened the ban to efforts by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban large sodas and other foods linked to obesity. He also suggested it would be safer for teens to tan at a salon than on a home tanning bed, because salon employees would know whether someone had been using the beds too frequently.
“What happens when you drive these things underground? It becomes unregulated. It becomes a lot more dangerous,” he said.
Rep. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, said the state already restricts the age at which people can participate in activities like smoking and drinking. Studies have shown that people who begin tanning in their teens have a high risk of skin cancer, he said.
“We have a world-class oncologist — cancer doctor — saying this kills children,” he said. “The good of tanning never outweighs the risk of cancer.”
Rep. Dick Jones, a Topeka Republican, said he agreed that tanning is dangerous for minors but thinks parents have the right to decide if their children should use tanning beds.
“We shouldn’t be jumping in the middle of families making decisions for themselves and their children,” he said.
But Rep. John Wilson, a Lawrence Democrat, said government does have a role in protecting youth, particularly in light of allegedly misleading information about risks from the tanning industry.
“It’s in the good of public health that we limit youth access to these facilities,” he said.
“We shouldn’t be jumping in the middle of families making decisions for themselves and their children.”- Rep. Dick Jones, a Topeka Republican
Representatives also raised the question of adding an exemption for the prescriptive use of tanning beds to treat seasonal affective disorder and psoriasis. Both are commonly treated with forms of light therapy that don’t emit the ultraviolet rays that can lead to cancer, and doctors caution against using tanning beds as a form of self-treatment.
The committee also voted to send a bill to the House floor that would allow chiropractors to clear student athletes to return to practice after concussions. Chiropractors can diagnose and treat concussions, but athletes currently have to see a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathic medicine before they are cleared to play.
Rep. Les Osterman, a Wichita Republican, introduced an amendment to allow physician assistants and nurse practitioners to clear athletes to play. None of the other committee members voted in favor of Osterman’s amendment.